Developer calls for installation of hydrants in Chepachet Village

The pond behind the Purple Cat complex on Money Hill Road. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

GLOCESTER – Al Costantino wants to install a dry fire hydrant in the new complex he is constructing at 14 Money Hill Road, near the center of Chepachet Village. At the recent Glocester Town Council meeting, he suggested other similar hydrants be installed in the village as well.

Dry fire hydrants are, basically, unpressured hydrant/pipes which lead to a water supply. Fire trucks provide the pressure to access water through the pipes.

Chepachet Fire Chief Dennis Huestis later told NRI NOW the hydrants are not needed, and that he previously rejected Costantino’s request to install the item. Plans call for a large cistern to be installed in the complex instead.

At the meeting, Costantino explained that a large pond had previously been built in 1975, when Earl Bowen had the large building behind Costantino’s complex constructed. The pond fed the sprinkler system in the three story building, which originally housed a small theatre, café and several other shops. The pump house for that system and a gatehouse are still standing intact next to the pond, he noted.

Although it was built primarily for the sprinkler system in that building, the pond is large enough to provide water for other uses, as well, Costantino said.

“I would rather put the dry hydrant connected to that pond, than the cistern,” said Costantino. “That pond has over 100,000 gallons of water available to fight a fire. It doesn’t make sense to me to have an investment over there and not have as much water as possible to fight a fire.”

He added the hydrant could be used by the fire department to fight fires in the surrounding areas as well. The center of town, he said, includes many old historic wooden buildings.

“You just don’t have, in my mind, adequate water in this area; so, that was the plan,” said Costantino.  “It’s still the plan.”

He added the Chepachet River flows through the center of town, but it is not easily accessible. A hydrant could be installed there, as well.

“The first question I have is, why isn’t there a dry hydrant in the center of town?” Costantino said.

He said the problem should be addressed in the town’s comprehensive plan moving forward. If an enterprise fund were placed in the town budget, residents could donate to it to eventually install more dry hydrants throughout the town.

“There’s no municipal water in this town,” he added. “There probably never will be, but you go to other towns you see a fire hydrant every 500 feet. We just don’t have it here, but what we do have is a lot of water we can get to, an awful lot of water.”

Costantino said mutual aid from surrounding towns is a huge benefit, but asked where tankers go for refills once water runs out. Dry fire hydrants could help alleviate the problem, he said. That should include installing a dry fire hydrant at Spring Grove Pond, not far from the center of the village, he said, noting that there are millions of gallons of water there, and having a dry hydrant access would be invaluable.

“There’s no one who would not want to see more accessibility to those water bodies in town in order to fight a fire,” said Costantino.

“There’s a lot of nuts and bolts here,” said Town Council Vice President Stephen Arnold. “The notion of this makes a lot of common sense on the surface, right? But, where does this go from here? Naturally, the fire departments would need to be involved in this. We would have to start with the fire departments.”

“Seems like more of a fire department responsibility,” agreed Councilor Jonathan Burlingame.

“The whole point is it is not going to get done with these individual fire departments,” responded Costantino.

The process, he added, may take years. Obtaining grants would help, along with making it part of the comprehensive plan.

“Why can’t there be a dry fire hydrant across the street at the river across from the fire house in Chepachet?” he asked the council.

He also said a hydrant should definitely be installed at Spring Grove Pond across from a housing development there, even though there is a large cistern located in the development for fire department use.

“I can’t for the life of understand why there isn’t a dry fire hydrant there,” said Costantino.

The council, however, said the matter was primarily up to the individual fire departments.

“If the fire departments wanted to work on something, I can’t see why the town wouldn’t want to help them,” said Councilor Walter Steere. “That’s their job. They know what they need.”

Burlingame added that the fire department hasn’t approached them regarding installing fire hydrants.

“We can reach out to them,” he said.

“We can definitely get this information over to them,” agreed Council President William Worthy.

In the open forum that followed, Harmony Fire District Moderator George Kane pointed out that there are 7-8 dry hydrants in the Harmony District, along with a number of cisterns. He added that it would be good to place some hydrants around Waterman Lake, but the water level goes down too low in the winter since the dam is opened during that time.

When contacted by NRI NOW, Huestis explained that there are a number of cisterns in place throughout the Chepachet district, and that the fire station in the center of Chepachet Village is a main source for water.

“We have access to water here at the station,” said Huestis, “and a bunch of cisterns throughout the village.”

The replacement of the 30,000 gallon cistern at Costantino’s complex with a dry hydrant, he added, is not a good idea.

“I rejected it because it has to be pumped uphill quite a way, and it would require maintenance,” said Huestis.

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  1. Dry hydrants make sense, if a standing water source of sufficient capacity is available. Access & utility easement to the location, Fire Dept maintains from time to time, becomes operation expense as part of the annual Fire Tax then life & property is better protected for ISO insurance purposes. How can the District and Town Council not see this? Would they rather have expensive, limited capacity (volume) cisterns in the ground that could be dried up when they show up at the time they need it the most?

    Mr. Costantino is spot on with a common sense approach.

  2. This guy Al Costantino is a pain in the ass for this great town of Glocester. The town needs to reject every want he has. He caused the same type of chaos in Smithfield.

    What an absolute mistake to allow this guy into Glocester…..

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