Newest Firefighting Tool More Than Empty Pipe

Newest Firefighting Tool More Than Empty Pipe
At the northwest end of the South Pleasant View Road bridge, a standpipe stretches down to 422 below

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – The newest tools in the arsenal of fire-fighting weapons given to first responders on U.S. Route 422, between its Armand Hammer Boulevard and Sanatoga interchanges, seemingly amount to no more than a series of steel pipes. It’s where the pipes are installed, however, and how they’ll be used that makes them valuable, Lower Pottsgrove Fire Marshal Lew Babel said Thursday (Nov. 4, 2021).

The hollow standpipes (at top, left, and below) – capped, bolted and locked at both ends – have already been erected at the northwest and southeast corners of the bridge that carries South Pleasant View Road traffic across 422. They stretch from just above the pavement of the four-lane highway, up the entire height of bridge supports, to the top of their railings.

The pipes won’t be used until needed, Babel told an audience at the township Board of Commissioners’ meeting in Sunnybrook Ballroom. When an emergency does arise, they are ready to quickly move any firefighter’s most precious commodity: water.

The standpipes are placed no more than 100 feet away from existing fire hydrants. A pumper sitting atop the bridge can be connected between a hydrant and a standpipe, and push water down to hoses on 422 below. Similarly, a tanker and pumper on 422 can force water up a pipe to wherever it may be required on the far-less-traveled highway above.

The pipes at South Pleasant View are the first of several to be finished. Others are scheduled to be installed at both ends of the Porter Road bridge replacement, farther west, after its construction starts in 2022. A third set is later planned for farther east, at the imposing bridge behind Cutillo’s Restaurant on East High Street. Route 422 crosses Sanatoga Creek and South Sanatoga Road there.

Collectively the standpipes represent important and much needed access for firefighters and others to respond to, and extinguish, incidents on increasingly busy and often crowded 422, Babel said. Their installation also represents the patience of the township, and the Sanatoga and Ringing Hill fire companies, Lower Pottsgrove commissioner and Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Lopez added.

Newest Firefighting Tool More Than Empty Pipe

Standpipes were requested about five years ago, Lopez indicated. At the time, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation officials had not fully planned the replacements of segments of 422 that have occurred during intervening years. Once certain of its plans and timelines, however, PennDOT “could not have been better,” Babel declared. “They gave us just what we asked for.”

More could be coming, too.

The township and its fire companies have requested access doors for personnel and hoses to be placed at locations along sound barrier walls that may be erected sometime in 422’s future, Sanatoga Fire Chief Eric Linsenbigler said. PennDOT also reportedly is considering placement of a 422 median-strip gate to allow emergency equipment across the highway without traveling to an interchange.

Lopez praised Babel, the fire companies, and PennDOT planners for the work they’ve done together to make the standpipes possible. All, he said, “went through a lot of exercises just to get this far.”

Photos by The Posts

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