Fatal Fire Brings to Light Deficiencies in Fire Hydrant Inspection Requirements

On February 2, 2009, Amy Yeung perished in an apartment fire in Selden, New York. Firefighters reported that a lack of water pressure in the fire hydrant in her private community, Village in the Woods, made it more difficult to put out the blaze, and forced them to call for two water tankers from neighboring fire departments. This tragedy exposed a deficiency in the inspections of fire hydrants in private communities.

Neither Suffolk County nor the Town of Brookhaven regularly inspects private water systems to ensure that they have sufficient water pressure to fight fires. State fire code mandates annual inspections of private fire hydrants. However, the state fire code does not require the filing of inspection reports with any public agency. Thus there is no effective safeguard to ensure that the state mandated inspections are properly performed.

Reliance upon good fortune was not enough to save Amy Yeung. The Brookhaven Town Board has set a date for a public hearing on proposed legislation mandating water pressure tests and public inspection reports for fire hydrants in private communities.

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