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LATEST NEWS  Sewer & Watermain

September 5, 2007

Ontario fire chiefs fume at aging infrastructure

TORONTO

Ontario fire chiefs and water main engineers say aging underground water pipes could hamper firefighting efforts and put lives at risk.

The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs says water flow is often reduced in old, corroded or leaking pipes, which poses a serious risk.

And it’s time to invest in infrastructure, they say.

Kitchener fire Chief Tim Beckett says aging pipes can result in highrise sprinkler systems failing or firefighting equipment not working properly.

Frank Zechner of the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association says older piping systems leak an average of 20 to 40 per cent of their water.

Beckett says municipalities that are colour-coding their fire hydrants to indicate low water flow areas aren’t dealing with the real problem.

He says colour-coding isn’t a solution — it just warns fire departments that sufficient water flow might not be available.

Cities like Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston and Hamilton colour-code their fire hydrants following the standards of the U.S. National Fire Protection Association.

Zechner says about half of Toronto’s water network is at least 50 years old, with some of it more than 100 years old.

“The solution is clear,’’ he said. “More investment is needed to upgrade and replace the older water main systems.’’

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