FLINT TWP. — Maintaining 1,249 fire hydrants is a huge, time-consuming job, so the township board has taken bids to see if the work can be farmed out at a reasonable cost.
The fire department currently maintains the hydrants but it is “a daunting responsibility for them’’ because of staff size, said Randall Stewart, township deputy supervisor who requested that the township board consider subcontracting the work.
Any hydrant that does not work presents a liability for the township, Stewart said.
He noted that color-coded caps have worn off some hydrants that need to be repainted so firefighters can tell what size line they are hooking up to.
Elevation also can pose a problem when landscaping or heavy snow hide the hydrants from view.
A total of 103.5 man hours were spent on hydrant work last year, according to the 2017 fire department annual report. The department has nine full-time officers and about 19 part-time on-call firefighters.
Staff spends time during warmer months pulling weeds around hydrants to keep them visible and removing snow during colder months.
In the fall, hydrants also must be winterized – a process that includes checking for damage, exercising the main valve for water flow and pumping water out of the barrel to prevent freezing.
The request for bids outlined the work as painting, exercising and lubricating the hydrants and replacing parts and adjusting the height, as needed.
Clerk Kathy Funk asked if the labor union might have problems with hiring out the work.
Fire Chief Tom Stadler said that issue would be addressed if the process goes forward but he did not object to finding out how much it would cost to bid out the work.
Bids due by June 12 were scheduled to be read on June 13 and presented to the township board at its June 18 meeting.