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Thursday, July 29, 1999 Published at 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK


Deluge of attacks on fire hydrants

Hundreds of hydrants have been damaged in Glasgow

Water authority and fire officials are warning lives could be put at risk by a spate of attacks on fire hydrants across a Scottish city.

There are fears the traditional summertime prank in Glasgow, which has reached epidemic proportions this year with 700 attacks in just three days, may hinder firefighters and lead to water contamination.

BBC Scotland reporter Miranda Hurst: "Fire crews are being attacked"
And concern has been expressed for the safety of firefighters and water workers who have been attacked while trying to repair the damage.

Attacks on fire hydrants by children and youths are not uncommon when the weather gets warmer.

But West of Scotland water said the current level of vandalism in Glasgow is reaching intolerable levels.

[ image: Fire crews could be hampered]
Fire crews could be hampered
The authority said attacking a hydrant can lead to a drop in water pressure, which can hamper fire fighting and allow the water supplies to become contaminated.

Tom Seggie, Control Manager for West of Scotland Water, said: "Strathclyde Fire Brigade could find themselves attending a serious fire, trying to get water from the mains and the mains are dry because the hydrants have drained the system down.

"In addition to that there is the risk of contamination to the public water supply. If the mains are drained completely then stagnant water could find its way back in there."

The rising number of attacks on water employees and members of Strathclyde Fire Brigade who are trying to repair the damage, has also caused concern.

Firefighter Hugh McKee said he fell victim to attack when called to control a hydrant.

He said: "You face bricks, boulders, stones and bottles - they throw everything at us.

Verbal abuse

"Then there is the verbal abuse and that can be hard to take from young kids. We've had to call the police for back-up. We've been threatened with being stabbed."

In an effort to solve the problem, the company in conjunction with the fire brigade, is launching a community education programme.

And Ian Robertson, General Manager of the authority, said it is now looking at ways of making it harder to set the hydrants off.

He said: "We have tried different types of lockable caps, so that if they do happen to open the valve the water is not released.

"We are also looking to the future with education campaigns in conjunction with the fire brigade in primary schools."

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