City-wide probe into Orange’s water network amid concern about fire-fighting capacity


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The Orange City Council says it will review its protocols and do a city-wide audit of the water valves and hydrants, after problems with the network hampered efforts to put out a large fire.

An animal shelter was evacuated in the central-west New South Wales city and more than 100 wrecked vehicles were burned after a deliberately-lit blaze on William Street earlier this month.

Three boys, aged 11, 12 and 13, have been charged over the fire which was allegedly lit during a total fire ban.

Police have also spoken with two other boys, aged 14 and 11, but have released them pending further inquiries.

The Orange City Council has found the water supply was unable to cope with demand during firefighting efforts, because sections of the system had been shut off to isolate a water leak on another street.

The Council’s director of technical services Chris Devitt said the council would improve its monitoring and recording processes to prevent any future issues.

“In general, we’re very comfortable that the network, day to day, works very effectively, but it is a very extensive network and parts of it are quite old,” Mr Devitt said.

“It’s a matter of really getting down to the finer detail of exactly how it works and understanding that and ensuring that issues like [what] happened in William Street are unlikely to happen again in the future.

“We need to be constantly monitoring it to keep an eye out for those sort of things.”

Lessons learned from network shortcomings

Mr Devitt said the network was so vast it was critical the council continued to monitor it, particularly in high-risk areas around industrial areas and schools.

“In any situation like this, we’re happy to acknowledge that things weren’t as good as they were, but the main thing is to learn from those issues,” he said.

John Grum owns the car yard where the vehicles were burned out and said while the review was of little comfort to him, it would hopefully prevent similar problems in the future.

“If we had water it would’ve been two to three cars instead of 130 cars,” Mr Grum said.

“It’s a fair swipe, I’ve got to try to rebuild now. I hope no one else has got to through what I’ve just been through.”

Outcomes and recommendations from the review will be reported back to Council.

Online Source: Abc News

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