Township Wants Annual Testing of Private Hydrants

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Fire hydrants owned by Lower Pottsgrove along public highways are inspected and tested at least once every year. However, more than 70 other hydrants across the township – some in housing communities where home owner associations are responsible for private streets – are not required to be tested, township Commissioner Robert Mohollen reported Thursday (Nov. 4, 2021).

That, he said, must change for safety’s sake.

Mohollen has met regularly with members of the township’s two fire companies, Sanatoga and Ringing Hill, and their concerns about private hydrants were raised in October, he said during this week’s Board of Commissioners session. Firefighters hope the township can do something to ensure privately owned hydrants work when they’re most needed, in the event of a fire or other emergency.

Until now the township has lacked an “enforcement mechanism,” as Solicitor Charles Garner Jr. called it, to ensure private hydrants also are tested. Commissioners agreed with Mohollen’s suggestion to enact regulations requiring proof of successful annual tests. It’s “a valid point” and certainly possible, Garner replied.

Ten new hydrants are currently being installed in the Sanatoga Greene housing community on the west side of Evergreen Road, Mohollen said. Several more have been placed within the Spring Valley Farms community on the south side of Bleim Road, Fire Marshal Lew Babel reported earlier.

Many more are found in the Rolling Hills, Maple Glen, and Maple Ridge communities, as well as near some commercial businesses, township Manager Ed Wagner observed.

In years past firefighters volunteered their time when available to test hydrants themselves, Sanatoga Fire Chief and township Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Linsenbigler told the board. That’s become increasingly difficult, though, at a time when volunteer ranks are shrinking and the number of hydrants is growing.

Board President Bruce Foltz wondered aloud if passing an ordinance would meet the need. Garner said it would but only in part, because a township law requirement likely would apply only to hydrants installed after its approval. For existing hydrants, Garner said agreements or other binding paperwork could be completed between the township and owners of existing private hydrants for compliance.

Photo by The Posts

Coverage from the Lower Pottsgrove commissioners’ Nov. 4 meeting: