William Street water main did not have enough pressure to fight fire in car scrapyard

TURN ON, TURN OFF: Firefighters battling a blaze which was started behind JG Auto Sales and threatened the RSPCA animal shelter on William Street. Photo: JUDE KEOGH
TURN ON, TURN OFF: Firefighters battling a blaze which was started behind JG Auto Sales and threatened the RSPCA animal shelter on William Street. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

Orange City Council has hit back at critics who claim a water main on William Street was dry and hampered firefighting efforts at the site on Saturday.

The grass fire started behind JG Auto Sales and threatened neighbouring properties.

Council staff completed a preliminary review of the William Street fire and found the water main was not dry, however it didn’t meet the capacity needed for fire-fighting.

“There has been some concerns raised around water availability to manage the fire, and suggestions that the main along William Street was dry, when NSW Fire and Rescue (NSWFR) arrived at the scene,” council spokesman Nick Redmond said.

“While there was water in the main, it was insufficient to meet the demands presented and was outside what should have been available.”

Mr Redmond said council’s general manager Garry Styles and staff had debriefed with NSWFR and the Rural Fire Service (RFS). 

“An immediate city-wide audit and inspection program for valves and hydrants has begun,” Mr Styles said.

“Additionally a review of protocols around opening and closing valves is under way and will continue.”

NSWFR said they arrived on site at 2pm, with council’s on-call water maintenance crew arriving at 2.30pm.

They discovered the valves on the Dalton and McLachlan streets roundabout were closed due to a substantial leak underneath it.

The crew re-opened the valves, with council providing a water tanker. They also opened a standpipe in the McLachlan Street works depot.

With the roundabout valves closed, pressure for the William Street main only came from the southern end.

For firefighting, 20 litres per second is needed.

A test found in normal circumstances the main provides 30 litres per second however it was only providing 7.6 litres a second when the roundabout’s valves were closed.