[StBernard] Obstacles Hamper St. Bernard Firefighters

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Tue Aug 21 21:21:21 EDT 2007

Obstacles Hamper St. Bernard Firefighters
Water Pressure Spotty; Overgrown Brush Sometimes Hides Hydrants

POSTED: 5:42 pm CDT August 21, 2007
UPDATED: 6:06 pm CDT August 21, 2007

CHALMETTE, La. -- Federal agents are investigating a fire that burned two
homes early Tuesday, but that's not the only problem that firefighters are
confronting in Chalmette.

Vincent Gangi's home was consumed in the blaze, which investigators say
started in an abandoned home next door.

Firefighters seemed to have trouble getting set up and with water pressure,
Gangi said.

St. Bernard Fire Chief Tommy Stone said the fire was already burning part of
Gangi's home when crews arrived. Gangi wasn't aware of it because it started
on the third floor, Stone said.

The chief, however, admitted there were issues with water pressure, as well
as some other problems.

"We did have a couple problems during the night with water pressure.
Actually, one firefighter, some kind of way, got entangled with an intake
line and got flipped over and had to be extracted from the hose. We had to
actually shut down the lines that we were feeding to one of our ladder
trucks," Stone said.

Water pressure isn't an overall concern in St. Bernard Parish, the chief
said, but there are isolated spots with problems.

Another issue, Gangi said, were overgrown bushes hiding the hydrant.

"Nobody cuts the grass on this side, over there. Look around -- there's no
cleanup, he said.

Stone said manpower was also an issue in putting out the fire. The
department used to have 116 firefighters, but since Hurricane Katrina, it
only has 90.

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