CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP — A troublesome situation with collecting water to battle a recent house fire has the Crystal Township Fire Department concerned for the safety of homeowners as well as firefighters.
At Wednesday evening’s Crystal Township Board meeting, Assistant Fire Chief Scott Brundage said action needs to be taken with the township’s de-watering well on W. Park Street, which the department uses to fill its water tankers.
Brundage said while fighting a house fire the evening of Feb. 27 at 1101 S. Crystal Road, four neighboring fire departments had to be called in for mutual aid to provide water on scene. He said the issue stems from the township’s de-watering well, which he stated has slowed in recent years in the amount of gallons the well will pump per minute.
“We called in mutual aid from four different departments for tankers because we couldn’t keep up with the demand for water,” he said. “Then when we had the tankers from the other departments come to help us, they had to return to their own stations to collect water. The ability to keep up with the demand we have today, it’s not even close.”
Brundage said he believes the problem has grown to the point where action needs to be taken, adding that the well has been rebuilt twice, and is currently at least 15 years old.
“My problem with it is, is that I feel it is a real safety concern, not only for the firefighters, but for the homeowners as well,” he said. “We ended up getting two tanker loads from our well here in town for that fire. The first one was about half a tank, and the second one filled up.”
According to Township Clerk Bob Naumann, the issue has been brought up before the township board in the past.
“At one point, a while ago, (Fire Chief Lonnie Fitzpatrick) had mentioned he wanted to get some prices to have some people check on (the well),” Naumann said. “That OK was given by the board to get those prices to seek improvements, but we need prices. It could be as simple as putting a new pump in there or maybe it needs a cleaning.”
Naumann said the township board can’t take any action until the fire department provides bids for repair work to be done on the well, or for the cost of a new well, if necessary.
Firefighter and Department of Public Works Director Roger Gooding said he was the driver of the tanker during the Feb. 27 fire.
“I drove the tanker to this fire and it took me 20 minutes to fill it up, and that’s after I had to prime the pump,” he said.
In contrast, Gooding said that when he’s filled the same 3,000 gallon tanker at the Richland Township Fire Station in Vestaburg, it only takes about 8 minutes to fill the tank.
“How would you feel if it were your house (on fire)?” he asked.
Naumann said he agreed with Gooding and Naumann, but reiterated that the fire department needs to come forward with prices.
“I’m not arguing, I’m saying that we gave approval six months ago to get prices, we just haven’t received any from you yet.”
Brundage said they will acquire bids and have them available for the board by the next board meeting in April.
Brundage also discussed the potential to build a new well at the Crystal Township Fire Station, but said the cost would likely be too high, more than $40,000.
In other matters, the township board:
• Voted unanimously to purchase a 60-inch Toro Zero Turn Lawn Mower for the DPW to replace an older model at a cost of $2,800.
• Voted unanimously to purchase property at 250 S. Mt. Hope road in the amount of $5,500.
The property is 0.8 acres in size and will be used to expand the Spencer Cemetery, which it abuts.
• Voted unanimously to hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. March 26 to discuss adding a millage to the August 4 ballot to fund future police coverage for the township from the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office in future years.
• Voted unanimously to begin accepting credit card payments for sewer bills in the township.