News Feature | May 25, 2016

One Dead After Faulty Water Pipe Complicates Fire Rescue

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Firefighters in a Colorado town faced a water infrastructure challenge during a kitchen fire this month that had fatal consequences.

The firefighters from Aurora, CO, were “forced to pump water from fire trucks when a malfunctioning water pipe failed to provide what they needed,” The Denver Post reported.

Firefighters were unable to attach a hose to a building pipe.

“You have to remember that [building pipes] are 40 years old,” said Larry Baker, chief of security at the building, per The Post.

The water pipe at the six-story residence for seniors was unable to extend water throughout the building, Laure Bridges, Aurora Fire and Rescue lieutenant, told The Post. Bridges said there was no mandate that the building have a sprinkler system.

“[A connection on a pipe outside the building that is hooked to city water] blew out and the water was just going into the yard,” Bridges said, per another Denver Post article.

“One person was transported to a local hospital with critical injuries and later died,” the report said.

“Bridges said the person who died was in the apartment where the fire started. The Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office will release that person’s name after an autopsy has been completed and relatives have been notified,” the report said.

Another person was taken to the hospital overnight for observation. A dog also died in the fire, according to KUSA.

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) points to firefighting as one reason water infrastructure is such a critical public policy issue.

“Although the challenge to our water infrastructure has been less visible than other infrastructure concerns, it’s no less important. Our water treatment and delivery systems provide public health protection, fire protection, economic prosperity and the high quality of life we enjoy. Yet most Americans pay less than $3.75 for every 1,000 gallons of safe water delivered to their taps,” an AWWA report said.

The AWWA report argued that it is “time to confront America’s infrastructure challenge.”