BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Days after News 4 Investigates exposed a loophole in New York law, State Senator Tim Kennedy introduced a bill to fix things. He says fire hydrant inspections should not be left to chance. His bill would require yearly fire hydrant inspections.
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Records News 4 obtained under the state’s freedom of information law reveal startling inconsistencies. Some municipalities produced hundreds of pages of inspections. One village had no records at all. The current state law requires periodic inspections, but it offers no definition of periodic. It also requires no records to be kept.
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Senator Kennedy hopes he can find bipartisan support on an issue that seems like common sense. “We depend on these fire hydrants and the fact that they’re going to work when it’s most critical. There should be some uniformity, and there should be clear requirements for each municipality to follow,” Kennedy said.
Senate Bill 8165 calls for each hydrant to be tested a minium of once per year. Records of inspections would be kept for at least five years. The bill also orders the New York Department of Public Serivce to create a full report based on data provided by municipalites. The report could offer a state snapshot of how well hydrants were maintained prior to any legilation changes.
Buffalo public works Commissioner Steve Stepniak says, if approved, the legislation won’t change what the city does. Water department crews check hydrants several times a year. “They’re overhauled every three years. That means we go in there, we grease them, there’s some packing nuts that we take care of,” Stepniak said.