Menlo Park Fire Protection District
Pictured above – Menlo Fire Captain Rob Johnson, Engineer/Paramedic’s Brendan Murphy and Eric Bunzel get soaked, trying to shut-off a sheared off fire hydrant - Credit Menlo Fire
Menlo Park Firefighters were dispatched to a vehicle versus fire hydrant call on Sunday afternoon, February 14, 2021 at 4:13 pm. Upon their arrival at 3639 Haven Avenue, the upscale Menlo Anton Housing complex at 4:19 pm, Captain Rob Johnson on Menlo Engine 77 reported “that a FedEx delivery truck had accidently sheared off a fire hydrant in front of the complex and water, the height of the three story building, was quickly flooding the local area”.
Despite repeated efforts by the Firefighters to gain access to the street shut-off valve, which was located next to the hydrant, the water pressure and debris pummeled them and thwarted their repeated attempts to shut it off. As thousands of gallons of water poured out, Captain Johnson requested help from the City of Menlo Park’s Water Department. Upon their arrival, another shut-off valve was located, but that valve also shut-off water to the entire housing complex. Despite taking almost an hour as the system slowly depressurized, Firefighters waited for the right moment to successfully shut down the sheared off fire hydrant and then restore water pressure back to the complex.
Fire Chief Schapelhouman said “If you don’t like being cold and wet at times, then don’t join the Fire Service, because we contend with both all the time! Fire hydrants specifically can present a challenge when they get hit or sheared off. Sometimes we find the vehicles are still on top of them with people trapped inside, or in this case, the shut off valve is located to close to the actual hydrant making it all but impossible to not only gain access to it, but be able to actually physically shut it down. This hydrant was also on what we call a looped high pressure system that was put in a couple years ago to handle a higher density/occupancy residential complex. It’s always impressive to see water shooting out of the ground like this, but trust me, those firefighters were pouring the water out of their boots before returning to the station and they were soaked to their core”.
Video available on request!
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