Fire department billed $125K by city water department

Officials at the Boann, Minnesota Volunteer fire department we stunned this week when they got a bill for $125,000 from the city water department. The bill stems form an event that took place back in April of this year.

Water main break

BVFD billed $125 for Water main break

On Friday April, 12 the Boann Volunteer Fire department (BVFD) was paged out to a house fire in a residential neighborhood. The department responded with two of their engines, which connected to two different fire hydrants in the neighborhood.

During firefighting operations the pump operator on one of the engines noticed a significant drop in pressure he was getting from the hydrant. A few minutes later the fire was deemed extinguished and the pumps could be shut down.

The source of the pressure drop was quickly identified when water was seen bubbling up from around the base of the hydrant and from cracks in the nearby sidewalk.

The BVFD contacted the water department. The director of public works came out to investigate.

With only a cursory inspection the DPW said it was a minor leak that could wait till Monday. The rational given was “why waste money on overtime and ruin the Friday night of one of my employees for a trickle of water”.

Turns out the leak was much more than a trickle of water. By late afternoon on Saturday the property owner was calling the police to report his yard “sinking down by where the water is leaking.” When the PD called the water department they were told it could wait till Monday.

By Monday morning there was major sink hole destroying much of the property owners front lawn. The damage also undermined the sidewalk and city street.

It took water department crews four days to get the break repaired. Much of that time was due to issues with safely digging out and pumping water out of the hole to access the broken pipe.

The director of the Water Department would not comment on the bill.

The fire chief told us he confronted the Water Department about the bill. “They claim they lost tens of thousands of gallons of water that weekend. Said they compared water usage for the last few years to get an estimate of water lost from that weekend.”

The bill lists out cost of water, along with the cost of repairs to the roadway and the home owners lawn. “He could have fixed this when it was small. But he refused to. Now he wants us to pay for his mistake. He even went so far as to say if my volunteers had better training they would not rupture water pipes.”

The Boann mayor has stepped in and is investigating the issue. A statement will be released as soon as the mayor make a decision.

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The staff at the CallTheCops are all people who now or at one time did work as police, firefighters, in EMS and even dispatch.