By CARA A. ANTHONY
The Frederick News-Post
FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — After a raging fire destroyed his neighbor’s house last summer, Wayne Merson wanted to make sure it would not happen again, so he built a fire hydrant for his neighborhood.
“This was really a no-brainer,” Merson said of the dry hydrant on Masser Road. “The pond is here, and I knew where the plumbing was.”
Dry hydrants are non-pressurized pipes installed at a pond or lake that is close to an all-weather road, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s office.
Merson’s dry hydrant is connected to a pond in front of his home.
The hydrant is one of many sprinkled throughout the area. Frederick County has 25 dry hydrants, according to a list published by the county’s Division of Fire and Rescue Services.
Merson’s dry hydrant cost $500 for him to install — an expense split between Merson and his neighbor, Carlos Escudero.
Escudero’s home was destroyed June 30 after a lightning strike sparked a blaze in the attic of the home, the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal said.
Escudero said the severity of the fire did not immediately dawn on him, because at first he saw only smoke. However, soon after firefighters arrived, the garage roof erupted in flames.
Without access to a hydrant, the roughly 60 firefighters on the scene rushed to haul water from about a mile away using a brigade of tanker trucks, said Steve Leatherman, technical services bureau chief for the county Division of Fire and Rescue Services. The primary company on the scene was the Lewistown District Volunteer Fire Co.
Mike Fogle, deputy chief of the Lewistown company, said firefighters depend on alternative water sources because the Lewistown area does not have water main fire hydrants.
“Fire is everyone’s fight,” said Deputy Bruce Bouch, spokesman for the state fire marshal’s office. “The value of life is ranked so much higher than we tend to give.”
Frederick County has already reported three fire deaths this year, adding to 33 deaths by fire reported throughout the state, according to the state fire marshal’s office.
Merson remembers a time when he needed help from rescue crews.
“I got rescued myself once,” he said. In 1992, he was involved in a car crash and in 1999 fire crews in Montgomery County extinguished a car fire at his brother’s home.
“I’ve had a couple times in my life where this type of person (a rescue worker) has come out and saved the bacon,” Merson said of his inspiration for building the hydrant. “I don’t think anybody at all should think that something like this isn’t going to touch them — something like this is going to touch you or a neighbor you know.”
Merson installed the hydrant in less than month, and it has already passed county testing, he said.
“It works,” Merson said standing next to his dry fire hydrant.
Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)