Radnor firefighters request training and equipment to deal with flooding | New


RADNOR – A torrential rainstorm on August 13 flooded several sections of Radnor, leaving residents and business owners affected with thousands of damage and the headache of cleaning up the muddy water.

Police and firefighters also rescued dozens of people who drove through flooded streets and found themselves stranded in broken down vehicles.

On September 20, the Public Safety Subcommittee of the Council of Commissioners met with representatives of the police and fire departments who called for more training and equipment to deal with the dangers of flooding.

Commissioner Jake Abel came up with a list of ideas to help make the community safer and praised Township Director Robert Zienkowski for opening up the North Wayne parking lot for residents of flooded streets to park their cars at the shelter when rain from Hurricane Florence threatened. Abel also suggested that the stormwater fund could be a possible source of money for safety equipment and increased training for first responders.

“As with snowstorms, I think we need to identify roads prone to flooding and ban parking on those streets during flood warning times,” Abel said. “If residents don’t want cars floating around downtown Wayne around the post office and college, then we shouldn’t allow parking there during big storms. In addition to opening the North Wayne parking lot to the parking lot, we should give up all parking in Wayne’s business district during these storms. “

Abel added, “I stood on South Wayne Avenue on September 8, watching the vehicles struggling through the flash flood on the road. If we were to have an arm [similar to railroad crossings] on West Wayne and another on Runnymede, we would deter drivers from attempting to cross these flood zones.

“When the water reaches a certain level, it triggers the arm,” he said.

The municipality could also use flashing signs to warn drivers of the danger of flooding, he said.

“Again, we are not talking about millions of dollars but about fundraising resources that would pay immediate dividends,” Abel said.

Zienkowski said the township can take action when authorities know a heavy rainstorm is on the way, but “the challenge is that storms that we don’t know are coming,” he said . Sometimes “they call for regular rains and these super cells pop up.”

“We are one of the only communities to keep our switchboard open 24 hours a day [during storms],” he said.

They also have a tree service to remove fallen branches and trees blocking roads, but getting PECO to restore power can be a challenge, he said. In addition, people should be aware of dangers such as when “standing 5 feet from a broken power line”.

Police sergeant. George Smith said, “If you’re going to invest the money, think about education.

A mechanical arm would also require maintenance, and there could be a problem with vandalism by minors, he said.

Abel asked about sending messages through cell phones to alert people.

Zienkowski said he would like residents to sign up for township emergency notifications and also fill out their mailing addresses, not just their email addresses. This way, if a street is flooded, they can be warned. To register, go to the town’s website, radnor.com, and click on the block notifications on the left side of the web page.

These warnings can be issued immediately, Smith said.

“The philosophy here is to get information out and get residents to make informed decisions,” Smith said.

Until the governor issues a mandatory evacuation order, “it’s on the people,” he said.

Smith said the flooding from the August 13 storm was the worst he had seen in 27 years. It only takes 4 inches of water to float a 3,000-pound car, he said.

Police Superintendent Chris Flanagan showed photos of the August 13 flooding.

“We have received over 100 police calls for the service,” said Flanagan. “Firefighters and police responded to more than 28 water rescues. “

“Since I’ve been here, we have destroyed four police cars because of this flooding, including one just outside the building,” said Flanagan.

He suggested the township obtain surplus military vehicles capable of crossing high water to help rescue stranded drivers.

Deputy Fire Chief Mike Maguire agreed the township should look for a “two-and-a-half-ton or five-ton excess vehicle just to cross a large portion of the roads.” These trucks can travel in 4 feet of water with higher air intakes and exhaust stacks.

However, he took issue with some residents’ claim that Radnor Fire Company vehicles were unable to exit the station during the rainstorm.

He also agreed that weapons to block roads would be a good idea. There are only “so many guys” on public works crews to put up barricades, he said.

Education is also important.

“If you don’t see the double yellow line [in the center of a road], you shouldn’t drive on it, ”he said.

Once, Lt. Shawn Dietrich performed a thigh-high water rescue, and “he could feel really pushed,” Maguire said. If first responders are not wearing full rescue suits, they should not be in the water above their knees for “fear of being swept away,” he said.

Sometimes manholes pop and float on the street, Zienkowski said. And someone walking in dark, deep water could accidentally enter an open sewer. On North Wayne Avenue during the recent flooding, people walked through the flowing water and ignored stop warnings from him and other residents.

First Deputy Chief Ryan Maguire said: “One of the problems we face more than any other is physical issues like missing manhole covers. When the water is thick and heavy and has all kinds of debris, we don’t know what it takes with it, biohazards, sewers back up and start to flow in flood waters, power lines fallen. … We put a lifeguard in the water and they start to fall; the next thing you know they’re 100 yards downstream… ”

Having no wetsuits, they “ask their volunteers to come in shorts and sneakers,” he said.

And having a small inflatable raft would be helpful for those rescued, he said.

Mike Maguire said most firefighters are trained in awareness, but he is the only one who has completed whitewater rescue training. He would like to see more water rescue training offered to firefighters.

Commissioner Sean Farhy questioned the cost of these proposals as well as the legality of using the money from the stormwater fund. He asked about the price of surplus trucks.

Flanagan said truck costs could be drastically reduced through a government program and estimated at $ 7,000 or even free, but said he would check.

“I guess I always like to see low budget items first, then if we need a military truck that’s great,” Farhy said. “Let’s see what we’re not doing, let’s do it and see if it makes a difference. The incremental things… it’s the little incremental things that make all the difference.

He suggested signs in the floodplains to alert people to the risk. He said he saw storm sewer grates filled with debris and suggested that public works crews clean them while they are driving. He offered to map flood plains and flood roads, “things on a low budget instead of trying to spend money to fix the problem.”

There are also maintenance costs

“They give you the razor for free and then you pay for the blades,” Farhy said.

He said there were also many good infrastructure projects in the works that needed to be financed with the dollars from the stormwater fund and questioned whether this fund should be “raided”.

Abel argued that a $ 400 training session for 30 people is not a lot of money. He warned that a significant loss could occur if the appropriate training is suspended.

“I think we need to have a long, hard discussion about where we put our priorities,” Abel said.

Township engineer Steve Norcini said safety-related items can be discussed during the township budgeting process.

“I would like to strongly recommend that the board review the safety of first responders,” Radnor Fire Chief Joseph Maguire said. “Spend this money and make first responders better equipped and safer. “

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