CUMBERLAND — A recent dispute between the Bedford Road Volunteer Fire Department and the city of Cumberland over the use of a fire hydrant for training purposes was resolved Tuesday morning when the involved parties met at City Hall.
“The issue regarding use during fire department operations has been resolved and will be used during emergencies,” said Bedford Road Fire Chief Eddie Collins, who took part in the meeting with Mayor Ray Morriss, City Administrator Jeff Rhodes and Jim Pyles, the director of the Allegany County Department of Emergency Services.
Rhodes said the meeting was positive, “with both sides understanding the concerns of the other.”
“They can utilize hydrants connected to the 36-inch transmission main for firefighting purposes,” he said.
The hydrant in question was located behind the Bedford Road station.
The city also agreed to work with the fire department and Allegany County to “evaluate other water lines and hydrants in the area for use during fires and training,” according to Rhodes.
In addition, officials offered to look for a city location where the Bedford Road department may be able to train if needed and to provide training by the city water department on operation of the hydrants on the main line servicing the city during a fire.
Collins also said hydrants in question will undergo performance tests before the fire department will “reevaluate the training situation” once those test results are completed.
The dispute arose after Cumberland officials notified the fire department that it could no longer use hydrants connected to the city water distribution system due to the concern that such use could damage a 36-inch water main to which the hydrants are connected.
The meeting took place nearly three weeks after Rhodes had sent a written notice to Collins prohibiting use of a fire hydrant located behind the Bedford Road fire station.
Rhodes said there are two 36-inch mains that bring water from the treatment plant at Lakes Koon and Gordon in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, into the city.
“This particular main is the youngest of the two and it is 80 years old ... so we need to be careful with it,” Rhodes said.
A break in the transmission main, he explained, could disrupt service for up to 40,000 city water customers, including the residents of the Bedford Road area.
Rhodes said structure fires in the city are typically followed by one or more water line breaks. The breaks occur after a hydrant is opened and air enters the water transmission system. The air can cause “water hammer” that can potentially rupture lines, he said.