Rapids City family that lost home to fire seeks answers


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Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2013, 8:01 pm
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By Sarah Ford, correspondent@qconline.com
RAPIDS CITY -- Barbara Gillman, whose family lost their Rapids City home to a fire on Nov. 13, told the village board this week they want to rebuild their home but are concerned about fire safety and fire hydrants in the village.

The house was a near-complete loss, and the family recently moved to a transitory home in LeClaire after staying at a motel for three weeks.

Ms. Gillman, a bus driver for the Riverdale School District, estimated the response time of the Rapids City Fire Protection District at 30 minutes and said it took an additional 15 minutes to get water on the fire, due to lack of water pressure in the fire hydrants.

"My house burned for 45 minutes without water," she told the board. She said she couldn't recall the last time the fire hydrants in her neighborhood were inspected or flushed.

Mayor Greg Rankin said he hadn't received any complaints about water pressure, and he doubted that it took that long to get water on the house. When Mrs. Gillman asked for records of fire hydrant maintenance, he said he would have to look for them.

"We'll do our best to get you answers," said Mr. Rankin.

Don Carey, chief of the Rapids City Fire Protection District, said he will go over the logs and get approximate response times for the family. He estimated the response time for the first responders at 9-10 minutes. He added that he sent two water trucks, each with 1,500 gallons, to fight the fire.

"Everything was by the textbook," said Mr. Carey, adding that the volunteer department was fully involved in putting out the house fire. "Minutes can seem like an eternity during a call."

Mrs. Gillman said finds the whole situation "disheartening."

"As a community, we should expect to do better, and want to do better, and we need to do better," Mrs. Gillman told the board. "If I were a citizen in this community, I'd be concerned."

Trustees asked that Mrs. Gillman give them specific questions that she wants answers to, and they will try to provide answers at the January meeting.

Trustees also approved awarding a contract for sanitary sewer cleaning and televising services to Visu-Service at a cost of $10,920, to be paid with grant money. The inspection and cleaning will cover 6,000 linear feet of sewer mains, as the village hopes to find the source of high infiltration of water, which leads to higher sewer bills.

Rapids City was awarded a $75,000 disaster recovery grant in March 2013. MSA Professional Services received $57,000 of the grant money for their services, leaving $18,000 for inspections and cleaning.

















 




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