Monday, April 14, 2008

Avoiding liability

Over in Guadalupe County, officials are painting their fire hydrants black to avoid lawsuits, showing just one more example of unintended consequences resulting from government action.

KSAT reports:

[Texas] House Bill 1717 states than if a fire hydrant doesn't provide an adequate flow of water -- at least 250 gallons per minute -- it must be painted black or covered with a similar-colored sack.

"We're painting them black and we're painting them black to come in compliance with the law," said Pat Allen, general manager of the [Green Valley Special Utility District ].

Allen said all of the hydrants will eventually be painted black to avoid any liability problems, which is upsetting to emergency personnel.

"If you paint them all black, they they all look like they're bad," Emergency Management Coordinator Dan Kinsey said. "So you can't determine which is a good hydrant and which is a bad hydrant.

Sounds like they're in the same boat they would have been if they had just left them all red.


Dave said...

Here's a thought, why not leave them the same color but send some guy out to check the pressure on them.

If they appear to be under the required pressure, fix the problem.

During the interim, affix a small weatherproof reflective tag to the hydrant so firemen will be aware.

If the need arises, they can still use the hydrant knowing that it may be less than optimal pressure, but they have saved the need to paint the hydrant.

Oh, and the key part of my solution is that if the pressure is low, fix the problem.

Albatross said...

Agreed. I realize there may be water pressure issues in certain areas, but isn't that what they build water towers for? Hold an election to build a new tower so the citizens can have confidence that the fire fighters will have the pressure they need when the emergency arises. I'd vote for that over some of the silly items I've seen on the ballot in the past.

In other words, like Dave said, fix the problem of low pressure instead of legislating hydrant colors.

Kels said...

Wow... ya'll are putting much more useful thoughts into this... I just thought about how fun it would be to go behind the painters and paint them hot pink! ;-)

J/K... on a serious note, I think it would be most wise to fix the problem... Why is it that no one ever wants to fix things and they're content with just getting by or what have you? That's the problem with our country... Not enough people want to be held responsible for things!

Albatross said...

Exactly, Kels. Which is why the Guadalupe County folks decided to play it safe and just paint everything black. They don't want to be responsible for a red hydrant that actually doesn't have the optimum pressure. There's your unintended consequence.