Council Member Elizabeth S. Crowley, Chair of the Fire & Criminal Justice Committee, introduced legislation today that would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to fix fire hydrants throughout the City in a timely manner. This will ensure that when fire companies respond to a fire, they will have a working hydrant to hook up to.
The legislation comes on the heels of an audit done by City Comptroller John C. Liu, which revealed that a significant amount of repairs did not meet the DEP’s internal time goals. The Comptroller’s audit revealed that, on average, it took the DEP over 15 days to fix high priority fire hydrants, which the FDNY defines as hydrants near schools, hospitals, and senior-citizen housing, among others, and 18 days to repair regular hydrants.
In fact, citywide, 43 fire hydrants went over a year without being properly repaired. One hydrant in particular, at 116th Street and Liberty Avenue in Queens, took 368 days to fix. Currently, the DEP does not have any written standards for repairing hydrants in New York City, only an internal goal to repair high-priority hydrants within 10 days. Consequently, 38 percent of the hydrants surveyed did not meet this standard.
Council Member Elizabeth S. Crowley’s legislation will require that the DEP repair high-priority hydrants within seven calendar days of receiving a complaint and regular hydrants within 10 days. The DEP will also be required to establish a method for reporting tracking the repairof all hydrants. This information would be accessible to the public upon request and posted on the department website in real time. An increase in accountability and transparency of the DEP will encourage faster response rates.
Council Member Elizabeth Crowley (D-30, Queens), Fire and Criminal Justice Chair stated: “There is nothing more important to a fire company when responding to a fire than having access to a working fire hydrant. Comptroller Liu’s audit exposed a major flaw with the tracking, reporting and repairing of fire hydrants throughout the New York City. This will bill require the DEP to fix fire hydrants within seven to ten days and assure that when the FDNY arrives on the scene, they have a working fire plug to hook up to.”
New York City Comptroller John C. Liu stated: “Our audit findings were troubling to say the least, especially as it related to the inadequate response by DEP to fix hydrants located near schools, senior housing, and hospitals. Council Member Crowley should be commended for taking the initiative to introduce this legislation, which will enhance the safety of all New Yorkers by turning a loosely followed ‘internal policy’ into binding law.”
Council Member Mark S. Weprin (D-19, Queens) stated: “Keeping fire hydrants in a state of good repair is critical to the safety of all New Yorkers.”
A copy of Comptroller Liu’s audit report on DEP’s fire hydrant repair is available here.