KOUTS | Fire Chief Don Sutter* got the council's attention Monday. When asked how things were going, Sutter said, "Not so good."
Sutter said a random test of Kouts fire hydrants at the Save A Lot plaza at Ind. 49 and Ind. 8 revealed the hydrants are turned off. It was the first indication he had the hydrants for the shopping plaza are privately maintained.
The test was done last week by MCO, the company that operates the town's utilities and street department, in preparation for a test by a national insurance rating company next week. The company is doing an audit of the town's ability to fight fires.
Sutter said the plaza has six hydrants. He thinks the ones on the north side are operating, but isn't sure.
"I had no idea they were private hydrants," he said. "I thought they were ours and MCO was checking them."
*The town has about four other private hydrants, but they are maintained by MCO. Councilman Kevin Salyer asked town Attorney Bob Schwerd who has the authority to check the private hydrants to see if they are working. Schwerd said the fire department can do it, but Sutter said the department wouldn't be able to turn them on if they aren't working.
The Town Council agreed to have Schwerd send the plaza owners a letter urging cooperation.
"It's important the town maintain the hydrants so it knows they are in good working order," Schwerd said. "I will also remind them they might have insurance coverage issues if it turns out they have inoperable hydrants."
Sutter said he hopes to have the issue resolved by the time the testing company comes next week. In the meantime he has another problem: the town's two emergency warning sirens aren't working. He said the county had hired Bartronics* to maintain the sirens, but that contract wasn't renewed and the sirens now are maintained by the county's Emergency Management Agency.
He said the battery backups for the sirens might have frozen over the winter. He was told the EMA is waiting for new batteries to arrive.
* Editor's Note: This story has been corrected from an earlier version.
A story that appeared in Tuesday's edition incorrectly reported the name of the Kouts fire chief and the company hired to maintain the town's emergency sirens.
The story should have reported the fire chief is Don Sutter. The company maintaining the sirens is Bartronics.
A comment attributed to Councilman Kevin Salyer was also incorrect. The story should have said Salyer asked the attorney what department had the authority to check whether the privately owned fire hydrants were working.