Fire Hydrants On The Fritz In Town of Hempstead
Apparently, the Town of Hempstead is not only lax in the areas of Code Enforcement, zoning/land use, and in generally maintaining a quality of life to which we would like to become accustomed (or at least one commensurate with the amount of property taxes we pay), they also seem to have a problem maintaining fire hydrants in working order.
According to a report in Newsday [Broken Fire Hydrants a Hot Campaign Topic], several hydrants in Oceanside were either broken or had no water pressure, hindering fire fighting efforts and placing life and limb in peril.
While a lack of water pressure - especially in the heat of summer - and a broken hydrant now and again, would not in themselves be unusual or, for that matter, newsworthy, it appears that this isn't the first time these particular hydrants have been down, with incidents having been reported to the Town of Hempstead as far back as 2003.
Now, its one thing for the Town to carve out an exception to its own zoning laws so that a store owner along Long Beach Road can hang an outrageous sign or eliminate a dozen parking spaces, but when the lives of our firefighters and building occupants are put in jeopardy, we've got a real dilemma on our hands. When local firefighters - our first line of defense in the community - are heard to complain that "the Town dropped the ball," you know that something is terribly wrong.
This all fits well, of course, into the Town of Hempstead's Band-Aid approach to issues ranging from illegal apartments to "downtown" beautification - if someone complains loud enough, we'll react - until the next time the same problem rears its ugly head.
Newsday quotes a 15-year veteran of the Oceanside Fire Department, Stephen Capobianco, who was reported to have said, "Firefighters are resilient. They work around problems. But if you know there's a problem and you don't do anything about it, you're putting them at undue risk."
And where's Town Supervisor Kate Murray as fires rage and water trickles? "Not available to comment," says Town spokesman, Mike Deery.
That about sums it up for the way the Town of Hempstead, in its reactive rather than proactive mode, handles the issues - from the life-threatening to the simply annoying - that impact upon every aspect of our quality of life. They know there are problems. They just choose to do nothing about them, all the while telling us what a wonderful job they're doing for us at Town Hall. Yes, they do nothing quite well, thank you, and we foot the bill. Let's hope that no firefighter, in O'side or elsewhere, has to pay for the Town's "good job" with his or her life!