By the Daily Post staff
A FedEd delivery truck accidentally sheared off a fire hydrant in front of the Anton housing complex in east Menlo Park, sending water into the air and flooding the parking lot and nearby street.
The incident was reported on Sunday at 4:13 p.m. at 3636 Haven Ave.
Firefighters attempted to access the street shut-off valve, which is located next to the hydrant. But the water pressure and debris pummeled them, stopping them from shutting it off, according to Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman.
As thousands of gallons of water poured out, fire Capt. Rob Johnson requested help from the city of Menlo Park’s Water Department. Upon their arrival, another shut-off valve was located, but that valve also shut-off water to the entire housing complex. It took almost an hour for the system to slowly depressurize, Schapelhouman said. Firefighters waited for the right moment to successfully shut down the sheared-off fire hydrant and then restore water pressure back to the complex.
“If you don’t like being cold and wet at times, then don’t join the Fire Service because we contend with both all the time,” said Schapelhouman.
He said fire hydrants can pose unique challenges when they’re hit or sheared off.
“Sometimes we find the vehicles are still on top of them with people trapped inside, or in this case, the shut-off valve is located to close to the actual hydrant, making it all but impossible to not only gain access to it, but be able to actually physically shut it down,” the chief said. “This hydrant was also on what we call a looped high pressure system that was put in a couple years ago to handle a higher density/occupancy residential complex.
“It’s always impressive to see water shooting out of the ground like this, but trust me, those firefighters were pouring the water out of their boots before returning to the station and they were soaked to their core,” said Schapelhouman.
I feel sorry for fire fighters who go back to their stations soaking wet after trying to turn off the water to the fire hydrants, but today;s hydrants are made to shear off if the they get slammed into. Its to keep car or truck and occupants from being killed or hurt when they hit a fire hydrant. Its like when people slam into those guard rails if made properly are designed to shear off so again the people don’t get impaled. As for the fireman well a sheared off hydrants its just part of their jobs.