Pond means year-around water to battle fires Mount Airy firefighters get a promise SOUTHWEST--Mount Airy * Woodbine * Taylorsville * Winfield

August 20, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Mount Airy firefighters, concerned about water for fighting fires in new subdivisions, have secured a promise of quick, year-round access to a large pond at Gillis Falls Road and Route 27.

"We saw a potential for a problem," said Doug Alexander, second assistant fire chief of the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Department.

"We wanted to make sure there were adequate places to get water where these homes are supposed to be. We did not want to have to come back to town or damage trucks to get to ponds."

Several subdivisions have been approved or are before the county for approval for development outside Mount Airy in southwestern Carroll, county officials said.

"We felt that with the potential development there, we needed some protection," Mr. Alexander said.

The Mount Airy fire department serves Mount Airy and the surrounding countryside.

The Winfield and Community Volunteer Fire Department also serves southwest Carroll.

Mount Airy firefighters raised their concerns with the county, then met with emergency and planning officials to resolve the issue.

Discussion centered around the residential growth slated for the area and the need to provide adequate water sources to protect it, Scott Campbell, assistant chief of the county's Bureau of Emergency Services Operations, said in a memo to the county planning commission last week.

The pond secured as an emergency water source at Gillis Falls Road and Route 27 is on a site known as White's Turf Farm.

As a condition to building a golf course community called Challedon there, the builder will have to install a dry hydrant -- an underground pipe connecting the pond to an off-site access point for fire equipment.

"This takes the edge out of our problem," Mr. Alexander said.

He said access to the dry hydrant will be along the shoulder of Gillis Falls Road, so firefighters will not have to enter the 140-home subdivision and 18-hole golf course.

With the dry hydrant, firefighters will not have to worry about a frozen pond in the winter or about damaging equipment to reach the pond.

"This allows firefighters to get to the area even if it's boggy," Mr. Campbell said.

"A dry hydrant is more accessible, more accountable and safer.

"It gives us year-round safe access to the water source."

Mr. Waldron will continue to look for water sources in the area.

Other sites being considered for dry hydrants are two county-owned ponds on Watersville Road and other ponds on a proposed 100-home subdivision called Windsong Farms, on Route 27 adjacent to the Quail Ridge Inn.

"I really need to give Mount Airy credit," Mr. Campbell said.

"They were aware of different subdivisions proposed for that region and didn't want to take anything for granted. They were astute in handling this."

By raising the issue, Mount Airy firefighters weren't trying to stop development, only trying to secure an adequate water supply, Mr. Campbell said.

"The decided to deal with it now instead of later," he said. "This is planning at its best."

Mr. Campbell said other fire chiefs in the county have raised similar concerns.

Most often, the answer in specific developments has been underground tanks or dry hydrants.

"Mount Airy is probably the first to handle this on a regional approach," he said.

"It's a great way to look at it. I think Mount Airy sets a good precedent."

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