At the request of Waitsfield-Fayston Volunteer Fire Department chief Tripp Johnson, the Waitsfield Select Board voted to use $4,500 in reserve funds to construct the infrastructure needed to secure a wet hydrant fed by a pond on John Donaldson’s land.
Donaldson is building a house on a parcel that runs along the East Warren Road and Rolston Road and has plans to build a pond in his backyard. Johnson came to the select board’s July 26 meeting to discuss an offer from Donaldson to provide the fire department with access to the pond via a wet hydrant for firefighting purposes.
Johnson explained that Donaldson made the offer this week and needed to know the answer by July 27 when his pond work was expected to start. He said that the town could spend approximately $4,500 to put in the pipe from the pond to Rolston Road along with a strainer and gate valve, setting the stage for coming back and completing a wet hydrant.
If the town were to go ahead with funding the wet hydrant right now, the cost would be $12,400, Tripp said.
Board chair Jon Jamieson said he reached out to former Waitsfield fire chief and select board chair Paul Hartshorn about how wet hydrants had been funded in the past and learned that it was through grants.
Board member Fred Messer asked if a new hydrant would be part of the town’s existing hydrant system which is linked to the municipal water system. Johnson said it would not be, but noted that he’d talked to the company that maintains the existing hydrants and learned it could easily be added to the system.
Board member Jordan Gonda asked about the next availability for grants and also about what need Johnson saw for having a wet hydrant in that location.
“If you look at the building sizes up there, the Eurich farm and barn, the structures on Great Lakes Carbon. Those are big buildings and the newer buildings burn fast and hotter and take more water. Also, Vermont is suffering from a shortage of firefighters. One person can easily handle hooking up to a wet hydrant verses several to hook up to a pond or dry hydrant. A wet hydrant saves on manpower and labor,” Johnson said.
In response to questions about the pond and water, Johnson said that the pond will be over 50,000 gallons and said that it was fed by natural springs on the property that are currently producing 6 gallons of water a minute.
Jamieson asked if there was a written agreement that the town and fire department had used in the past with private landowners who offer access to their ponds. Messer said there had been and it may have been something that was recorded on the deed of the property.
“I’ll talk to Mr. Donaldson about it,” Johnson said.
“What’s the pleasure of the board?” Jamieson asked.
“I’d like to make it work as long as it doesn’t cause a shortfall,” board member Brian Shupe said.
Jamieson, Gonda and Messer concurred and Messer made a motion to allocate $4,500 from one of the fire department’s two reserve funds to install the necessary infrastructure while the town pursues grant funding or budgets for the balance of the cost. After the motion was seconded, it was amended to be contingent on a written agreement with Donaldson.
“I think investing the $4,500 to give us options for the future is a very smart move,” Johnson told the board and said that going forward he’d like to establish a specific reserve fund for opportunities such as this or add money to either of the existing reserve funds so that funds are available for other opportunities such as this one.