The county has ample access to water to fight fires in Zion Crossroads, Ferncliff, Louisa and Mineral. Members of the Louisa County Board of Supervisors say they’d like to also have a reliable supply elsewhere in the county.
But after recent fire incidents in the Reedy Creek neighborhood and near Lake Anna, county firefighters were surprised to learn they couldn’t easily access water at Moss-Nuckols Elementary School or the Food Lion on New Bridge Road.
Citing a fire in September that burned down a house on Anna Coves Boulevard, county Fire and Emergency Services Chief Robert Dubé said it would have helped if staff could have tapped water from the tank behind the Food Lion. Instead, they had to rely on the Spotsylvania County fireboat to pump water from Lake Anna into tanker trucks.
“About 70 percent of the county doesn’t have hydrants, so we use tankers for everything,” Dubé explained at the supervisors’ Feb. 1 meeting. “Each fire company has one. It’s a shuttle operation that we’re used to doing.”
At a more recent fire at a house on Garretts Mill Road, fire crews went through 15,000 gallons of water and five tanker trucks. They could have used more, Dubé said.
County Administrator Christian Goodwin said Chase Development Company, which owns the Food Lion shopping center, asked for advance notice before the county taps the water tank. The tank’s alarm system could activate if a lot of water is pumped out all at once.
“They have to have time to put safeguards in place to ensure it doesn’t cause damage to the system,” Goodwin said.
The idea that firefighters would have to provide advance notice of a fire elicited a laugh from several supervisors.
“I would think an emergency of this nature would supersede any technical requirements,” said Chairman Bob Babyok (Green Springs District).
A staff person at Chase Development did not reply to a request for comment.
The county and Louisa County Public Schools are discussing whether fire crews can tap water from one of the two active wells at Moss-Nuckols, said Andrew Woolfolk, the schools’ public information officer. The main well is designated for fire suppression and domestic water use at the school. The other well is for irrigation.
“We have had preliminary discussions with county officials about how this well could be used and we will certainly partner with them in any way that we can,” Woolfolk said.
The other two public schools on wells, Jouett and Trevilians elementary schools, also have one well specifically for school use and a second one for irrigation, according to Todd Weidow, the schools’ maintenance director. However, the irrigation wells at these schools can’t be tapped by a fire truck because they do not have holding tanks.