A video that appears to show firefighters struggling to raise an underground hydrant in Mudgee has been released to support claims of access issues.
Mudgee resident Heath Gay filmed the two minute and forty-second video outside a Lewis Street house fire, which started around 11.30pm on New Year’s Day.
The video shows a firefighter couched down trying to chip and jimmy the hydrant out of the ground.
Mid-Western Regional Council and Fire and Rescue Mudgee have previously denied claims of access issues.
Heath’s parents, Stephan Gay and Elizabeth Newton, posted the video to social media in an effort to back up their son’s claims.
“We have irrefutable evidence that there was an issue in accessing the hydrant,” Elizabeth said. “Heath Gay’s claims were correct.”
“People thought he was lying until I showed them the video,” Stephan added. “They couldn’t believe it.”
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The filmed hydrant was the second water main that was accessed during the incident.
“Heath says it took firefighters about five minutes to access the first hydrant, but because he was trying to help, he didn’t get video footage,” Elizabeth said.
Mudgee Fire and Rescue deputy captain, Craig Muscat previously stated the crews had “no trouble accessing the water”.
The Gay family have been campaigning for hydrant maintenance since Stephan’s father died in a house fire in 2012.
Mr Muscat has since told the Mudgee Guardian the hydrant on Lewis Street was “covered over a bit”.
“The fire had been extinguished, and we had surplus fire crews, so I asked the guys from Gulgong to clean it [the hydrant] up,” he explained. “This was 30 minutes after the fire.”
He assured the community that they have up to 5000 litres of water in the tankers to fight a fire.
“We have plenty of water, the first tanker has 2000 litres and the Hazmat truck carries 3000 litres,” he said. “5000 litres will last about 20 minutes.”
“Two and a half minutes to access a hydrant isn’t ideal, but we’ve got 20 minutes of water in the tanks.”
Stephen Gay and Elizabeth Newton are now calling for an improved maintenance scheme.
“Who is responsible for the hydrant maintenance, is it Council or is it the fire brigade?” Elizabeth questioned.
“The public need to know who’s responsible for that.”
“Why aren’t they maintained, why have Hydrant Hero’s? The Hydrant Hero’s should be the Council,” Stephen added.
Mudgee Fire and Rescue resurrected the Hydrant Hero’s challenge on Saturday.
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The aim of the challenge is for members of the public to identify the hydrant closest to their house and make sure that it is clearly visible and unobstructed.
Mr Muscat said they are turning, “this situation into a positive”.
“It’s physically impossible for us to check every hydrant,” he said.
“The Gay’s have highlighted an issue, so we’re resurrecting the Hydrant Hero challenge that was run a couple of years ago.”
Community members are asked to post photos of their nearest hydrant to the Fire and Rescue NSW 387 Mudgee Facebook page.
Since the challenge was launched on Saturday, three community members have posted photos and been awarded Hydrant Hero status.
Stephan and Elizabeth have welcomed the initiative, saying, “the fire brigade are trying to be proactive and get the whole community on-board.”
“But they [the hydrants] all need looking at, they all need to be checked so that they’re up and running and fully functioning and fully accessible.”