Hydrant Failure: Winter Springs house fire reveals threat to public safety

  • Seminole County has warned the City of failure to maintain hydrants since 2021; cautioned fire insurance premiums may increase as a result
  • Emails indicate developments continued without proper fire permits
  • Seminole County will now send water tankers to fire emergencies in Winter Springs until they are convinced our hydrants work
  • The State of Florida needs to step in and take corrective action for the safety of the residents of Winter Springs

By Jesse Phillips, President
Winter Springs Community Association

Earlier today I read this shocking Oviedo Community News report: when a dryer caught fire in a Winter Springs home, fire crews could not attach to the fire hydrant because it had been poorly maintained by the city.

Although the fire was controlled through another means, this critical failure caused the county to announce they will be sending emergency water tankers to respond to any future calls in our city until the issue is addressed.

The broken fire hydrant in question is one of at least 1,200 in our city which have not been properly maintained, as exposed by the brown water recently pumped into homes in Oak Forest. The city, of course, denies there are any problems with drinking the brown water.

If you don’t believe drinking chocolate colored water carries health risks, can you at least admit fire coming out of your dryer may have some health risks?

According to the OCN report, the county’s assistant fire chief has been trying to warn Winter Springs city leadership of their failure to properly maintain our hydrants since 2021 through certified notices and follow-up emails.

They knew there was a problem and did nothing, which could have resulted in a house being burnt to the ground. Today we received hundreds of pages of email documentation in response to our public information requests showing a multitude of issues pertaining to how development projects have been built, and the city’s lack of responsiveness to the county raising numerous concerns over the years.

We are past the breaking point.

This is not the first time the residents of Winter Springs have been put at risk:

  • Our health has been at risk because of the neglect of our water system.
  • The city’s failures to maintain our bridges caused catastrophic failures during the hurricane.
  • The financial mismanagement is causing our utility bills to skyrocket.
  • Seminole County fire department warned a lack of maintained fire hydrants could cause fire insurance premiums to increase in April 2022.

And now, your neighbors were minutes away from having their home turned to ashes because of at least 3 years of willful neglect in City Hall.

Enough is enough.

How many more audits do we need? The DEP, SJRWMD, Seminole County Inspector General, Florida Auditor General and JLAC have all weighed in and are telling us the same thing: something must be done.

The State of Florida needs to step in and take corrective action as soon as possible for the health and safety of the residents of Winter Springs.