Macon Water Authority servicing thousands of fire hydrants in Bibb County

A Macon-Bibb Firefighter demonstrates how they check to make sure fire hydrants are in good working condition. Eric Mock/WGXA

MACON, Ga. -- If your property ever catches on fire, you're going to want to be sure the fire hydrant closest to your home is working.

Training Chief Reco Stephens with the Macon-Bibb Fire Department knows this firsthand.

"My house caught on fire some years ago and I had a fire hydrant in my yard and it is so important those are working," he said.

As part of our On Your Side series, WGXA set out to find out how the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department and the Macon Water Authority maintain 8,000 fire hydrants in the county.

"It can be a life or death issue, if we don't have the adequate water supply," Stephens said.

Chief Stephens said firefighters inspect the fire hydrants in their stations area twice a year. If there's something wrong with them, they call the Macon Water Authority.

"And I don't want an incident where the fire department pulls up and they actually need that hydrant and they're not able to use it," said Willie Sidney, Water Distribution Systems Manager for the Macon Water Authority.

He noticed last year sometimes firefighters had a hard time getting the caps off of hydrants, so he suggested in addition to coming out when firefighters call, the Water Authority do a routine maintenance program of all the hydrants in Bibb County.

Water Authority Planner Reggie Cooper said many of the hydrants in Bibb County are getting old and are in need of maintenance.

"I'd say a lot of these hydrants are 50-plus years old," Cooper said.

Since May of 2016, the Macon Water Authority has serviced almost 2,000 fire hydrants. That's about a quarter of all the hydrants in Bibb County.

"Our goal is to go through the system and go through every one of them," Cooper said.

Even with the need for maintenance, Stephens said it's rare they come across a hydrant that flat out doesn't work.

"In my 18 years I've never seen one that I've came to that wasn't operational," he said.

Sometimes hydrants are beyond repair though. But Sidney said they can get them back up and running within a week so you can know when firefighters respond, they'll have water to use on your home.

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