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Firefighters furious over new fire hydrant connections in Franklin County

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MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- Volunteer firefighters in western Franklin County are concerned over fire hydrant connections that were welded shut but the local water authority.

Officials with the Bear Valley Joint Authority, the local water utility company, blocked several fire hydrant connections from being used by the local fire company and their connection equipment. They say there is not enough infrastructure to support the flow of water and the underground system could collapse as a result.

Dale Carbough is the fire chief of the Mercersburg, Montgomery, Peters and Warren fire companies and is not happy. "Our trucks have centrifugal pumps and talk about a large water source, and we use soft sleeve hoses so fire hydrants are capable of giving you water they can give you," he said.

Carbough said he has never had an issue battling blazes with fire hydrants until now. As a result, the water utility company blocked their connections. "A common courtesy call from Bear Valley would have helped all of this.  We could sit down and talk it out and explain how a fire truck works," Carbough said.

Firefighters say if there was a fire in the area, they would only be able to use the 2.5-inch openings, which would put fire victims' safety at risk. "It will take more time to get hooked up, time is of essence.  We've had a rash of barn fires and that takes a lot of water, everything is at risk," Carbough said.

Bear Valley said the only other solution is spending millions of dollars on replacing the underground system, which is money they do not have.