WDAY: The News Leader

Published October 21, 2010, 08:32 AM

Private property owners notified of hydrants in need of repair

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Ten days after the Galleria Apartment fire in South Fargo, some property owners are getting unsettling news they're not up to fire code. Even more alarming is that some have known for a year that they have fire hydrants that don't work.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

WDAY 6 News has obtained the list of violators and this letter from the Fargo Fire Marshal. It has been sent to 22 private property owners. The letter reads the department's annual inspection found hydrants on those properties is in need of repairs.

The owners have 15 days to respond when fixes are or will be made. It's the 2nd notice sent.

“We do carry a thousand gallons of water with us, so small fires, waters are not an issue, but once we get into any larger, the water supply becomes very essential.”

While some of the 22 violations are on business properties, most are for large apartment complexes. One of the area's largest rental companies, Goldmark, is one of those owners. Renters are not happy.

Of the 62 hundred fire hydrants in Fargo, 1420 are privately owned. Three of the 22 out of service are owned by Goldmark. The company got this letter.

In the wake of the devastating apartment fire at the Galleria on 42nd Apartments, Goldmark renter Karin Keller can't be more concerned. Her family of four lives in this complex.

“When the fire broke out and we saw it and it's right down the street, it really hit home.”

Keller has lived in the Bay View Buildings for two and a half years. It was several months ago she first saw this fire hydrant. An out of service tag was on it then, and there is one still on it now. Keller says she and her husband have told the fire department, the state's attorney, and property management of the problem.

“We wanted to know who's responsible to fix things for hydrants. Evidentially, everybody knows they're out of service.

“There's really not a story here.”

Goldmark Vice President Kurt Bollman admits to knowing about one of the three violations last winter.

“It really goes to a workload priority.”

He tells us the fire chief said not to worry because of a nearby working hydrant on public property.

“And it was impractical to dig it up in the winter time and the bids are being received now to dig that up and fix it.”

Fire officials visited the site this afternoon as did workers for Goldmark. The company says all repairs will be made by winter.

“All of the instances, there is backup hydrants. We're not in an emergency situation where these properties are without protection.”

Still no comfort for renters until that fix

“If a fire would break out, would we be in the same situation and we wouldn't have water?”

If the owners do not respond within 15 days, the fire chief will order repairs. If those aren't made then, the city attorney can file litigation. That could be an infraction with a fine.