According to FEMA, fire-related deaths have dropped significantly, from about 12,000 in 1974 to 3,245 in 2006, and the number continues to decrease. Water infrastructure plays a critical role, for example, the increasing nationwide availability of highly pressurized hydrants allows emergency workers to extinguish blazes with increasing speed and effectiveness.
“Illinois American Water makes proactive and prudent infrastructure improvements that benefit its customers, including needed upgrades to hydrants, booster stations and other systems that are critical to fire protection,” said Karla Olson Teasley, Illinois American Water’s president. “Making investments into well-maintained water systems helps firefighters to continue protecting the health and safety of our communities.”
Teasley noted that consumers play an important role in this effort, as a portion of their water bills goes toward these critical investments to keep their community’s infrastructure strong. Consumers can also play a role in helping to keep fire hydrants dependable and in good working order through the following tips:
- Keep fire hydrants clear of debris. Although they’re usually located curbside, avoid parking trash bags and recycling buckets too close.
- Give hydrants breathing room. Don’t plant flowers or shrubs next them.
- Mow around fire hydrants. If weeds or grass are enveloping them, make sure to trim around them during yard work.
- Shovel the snow and ice around hydrants. A municipal employee might be along to do that at some point, but why wait until it’s too late?
- If a fire hydrant appears damaged, is overflowing or the snow flag is missing, don’t assume the authorities know about it. Report the situation, including the hydrant’s location, to the local fire department immediately.
- For your safety and that of others, never park in front of or within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, even just for a few minutes.
Illinois American Water’s Firefighter Grant Program awards grants up to $1,500 to provide personal protective gear, communications equipment, firefighting tools, water handling equipment, training materials and classroom programs. Since creation, the program has resulted in 148 grants totaling
approximately $173,000 awarded across the state.
Illinois American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to more than 1.2 million people. American Water also operates a customer service center in Alton and a quality control and research laboratory in Belleville. Founded in 1886, American Water is the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company. With headquarters in Voorhees, N.J., the company employs more than 7,000 dedicated professionals who provide drinking water, wastewater and other related services to approximately 15 million people in more than 30 states, as well as parts of Canada. More information can be found by visiting www.amwater.com.