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Mandy Cawby

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mcawby@waterone.org

Plenty Of Water, Pressure During Overland Park Blaze

Post Date:04/12/2017 10:21 AM

 A massive fire in Overland Park, KS was a recent reminder of the role that municipal water utilities play in supporting fire protection. On March 20th, 2017, the construction site for Overland Park’s new CityPlace development caught fire and the property quickly became engulfed in flames. To make matters worse, dry and windy conditions spread embers onto the roofs of nearby homes, leading to dozens more property fires across a widespread area. The incident quickly became an eight-alarm fire as fire crews from across the entire metro arrived to fight the growing blaze.

As emergency responders put themselves on the line to protect life and property, WaterOne staff were on hand to provide support. WaterOne distribution staffers were dispatched to Overland Park’s Emergency Operations Center to answer questions and offer assurance. A main repair crew was also placed on standby so they could respond immediately if a water main break occurred, although ultimately none did. Staff at WaterOne’s water treatment plant control room also closely monitored the situation, but the system ultimately performed exactly as it was designed to.

An estimated 3 million gallons of water was used to fight the fires, and emergency fire protection reserves maintained at ample levels during the incident. Water was used at a flow rate of 10 million gallons per day (MGD). That volume is equal to the capacity of one of WaterOne’s smaller F2 High Service Pumps, and the system readily handled the extra draw. Area residents were reassured that at no point during the emergency was there any need for restricting their personal water usage. 

The roles of fire departments and public water systems have always been closely linked. Alongside the convenience of having clean, fresh water available in-home, an essential purpose of a water utility has always been to ensure that there is water at the ready for fire protection.

WaterOne is required to keep water in reserve for fire emergencies, sustain sufficient water pressure in our system for the use of emergency crews, and maintain a network of 19,000 fire hydrants across our entire service area. When a fire department is rated by the Insurance Service Office (ISO) for quality and effectiveness, 40% of the rating is based on the capabilities of the water supply system that the fire department uses. 

"I just wanted to personally reach out and say thanks to the WaterOne team," said Overland Park City Manager Bill Ebel. "The work that our fire department did along with many others could not have been possible without reliable water infrastructure."

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Fast Fact

WaterOne is an independent, non-profit water utility, proudly serving 400,000+ customers in the Johnson County area.