Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Sept. 25, 2000

'Dry' hydrant at Lake Mary will make fire departments quicker

By Lynda Jensen

A 50-foot long plastic pipe may be the difference between life or death when it comes to a house or grass fire near the Lake Mary area.

The pipe there, located on the shore of the lake, serves as a "dry" fire hydrant - so named because it stand empty most of the time and uses a lake, pond, or stream for its water supply.

To use the dry hydrant, a pumper from any area fire department can park next to the lakeshore, connect to it, draft water out of the lake, and then resume fighting fires instead of driving all the way back into town to replenish its water supply, said Fire Chief Paul Herbolsheimer.

"They're common up north," Herbolsheimer said, although a dry hydrant in this area is fairly rare.

Dry fire hydrants are used in remote areas where water supplies are too far away for fire departments to reach. In the case of Lake Mary, the dry fire hydrant will add precious minutes to response time for any fire department that responds to a fire in the vicinity.

Several fire departments know how to use the hydrant since the Winsted Fire Department invited them to an open house last week for the hydrant.

The hydrants will not freeze, since water in the pipe is below the freezing line of the lake. Water from the hydrant can be used regardless of the weather, however, access there is a different issue, Herbolsheimer said.

If someone is interested in "adopting" the hydrant with the fire department's fire hydrant adoption program, this would be welcome. The snow needs to be cleared there for the fire departments to reach it in winter, he said.

Funds for the hydrant were donated by the Prairie County Research and Development of Willmar, which is an arm of the Department of Agriculture.

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