SUGARLOAF TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)- Questions and concerns are being raised about a fire hydrant near a Luzerne County School, the hydrant has not worked for some 8 months. 

Parents contacted the I-Team to look into the situation, saying they were concerned about fire protection at that school. Eyewitness News I-Team went looking forward answer in Sugarloaf Township. 

This controversy is being described as a result of miscommunication and /or misunderstanding. 

The fire hydrant that is the focus of so much concern is located in front of the Valley Elementary-Middle School on Rock Glen Road. There’s been a bag over it since last summer. 

This fire hydrant near the Valley Elementary-Middle School was put out of service last year because it was malfunctioning. The I-Team contacted the Sugarloaf Township Fire Company about the situation.  

The Fire Company officials tell the I-Team they have been asking the Conyngham-Sugarloaf Joint Municipal Authority, which owns and maintains the fire hydrant, to repair or replace the hydrant. 

The operations manager, Ed Gregory says there was no sense of urgency because there is another fire hydrant located behind the school. But just today he learned that the second hydrant is not adequate to help fight a fire.  

“We knew it had to be repaired but we did not realize the urgency of it. There was a miscommunication with the fire department. There’s another hydrant in the back of the school but in speaking with them today they told me the pressure wasn’t sufficient in the hydrant. We didn’t realize the urgency of this one needed to be fixed,“ said Gregory, Operations Manager of the Conyngham-Sugarloaf Joint Municipal Authority 

When asked if he remembered someone from the fire department informing him of the inadequate nature of the second hydrant Gregory explained that he only found out Monday that there wasn’t enough pressure in the hydrant in back. 
A contractor hired by the municipal authority was checking out the defective hydrant Monday afternoon and will replace it tomorrow. 

Sugarloaf Fire Company officials say they assumed the municipal authority works be aware of the low water pressure in that second hydrant.  

“The water authority knew the hydrant wasn’t working as far as the hydrant behind the school .. I would assume the water authority knows what kind of volume output the hydrant has,” says Patrick Genetti, Deputy Fire Chief Sugarloaf Fire Company 

Deputy Chief Genetti says the fire department has contingency plans ready in the event of a fire at the school but says the fire hydrant could only improve any firefighting effort.  

The Superintendent of the Hazleton Area School District tells the I-Team they were unaware of any fire hydrant concerns. 

“We were unaware of the hydrant water pressure problem. We learned about it Sunday and contacted the water authority looking for answers. The safety of our students and staff is our top priority,” explains Brian Uplinger Superintendent of the Hazleton Area School District. 

But still, parents want answers. 

“That’s way too long to let it go. That’s the main feed to the school. I’m just becoming safe if it today. I have three grandchildren, four grandchildren here and a daughter who’s 9 years old today,” says Randy Drumheller 

Superintendent Brian Uplinger says because of this hydrant situation he has asked his operations team to reach out to fire departments and water companies that provide service to all their schools to make sure they are all in good working order