Ottawa Fire confirms 'mechanical failure' of hydrant near Britannia blaze

Ottawa fire officials say a fire hydrant near Tuesday's Britannia Road house fire malfunctioned, but they say that's not uncommon and firefighters are prepared for it.

Firefighters given location for back-up hydrants each time they're dispatched

Fire officials say this hydrant suffered a "mechanical failure" when they attempted to use it on Tuesday afternoon during a house fire in Britannia. (CBC)

Ottawa fire officials say a fire hydrant they attempted to use near a Britannia house fire on Tuesday afternoon "malfunctioned," but they say that does happen "from time to time."

Four adults and one infant were displaced after the fire at 306 Britannia Rd., which primarily damaged the third floor, attic and roof. 

Mark Duffy, one of the affected residents, told CBC News the damage was contained to the third floor, roof and attic, but he worries it "could have been a lot worse."

Mark Duffy, an infant, and three other adults were displaced after a fire on Britannia Road Tuesday afternoon. (CBC)

He said it appeared firefighters could not get the nearby fire hydrant to work. 

"It took a while for them to get hooked up to the water, and they ended up having to hook up to a pumper truck," Duffy said. 

'A show and a shower'

A spokesperson with Ottawa Fire Services confirmed the hydrant near the fire had a "mechanical failure" when firefighters went to use it.

"Water did spray a little bit. Everyone got a bit of a show and a shower," said Danielle Cardinal, the public information officer for Ottawa Fire Services. 

Fire dispatch gives firefighters the locations for several different hydrants they could use, in case the first hydrant malfunctions, or is frozen, something that often happens in the winter, according to Cardinal.

During Tuesday's fire, "[firefighters] knew where the second hydrant was, and they just put that into function while others operated the pump [truck]."

Crews work to put out a fire on the third floor at the back of this home on Britannia Road. (CBC)

More than 20,000 fire hydrants in Ottawa

Cardinal said malfunctioning hydrants don't usually slow down the fire fighting process, since pump trucks are also dispatched. 

"We communicate with them...if ever there's a hydrant that's out of service, or is performing poorly," said Cardinal.

There are 20,405 fire hydrants in Ottawa, maintained and repaired by the city's environmental water drinking services branch, according to Carol Hall, the city's water distribution program manager.

Hall said in an email that currently fewer than 30 hydrants are out of service, mostly due to construction.

The Britannia hydrant was last inspected on April 26 and was found to be functioning normally, Hall wrote in a statement. It will be repaired within the next seven days as the repair will require excavation.

Cardinal said it's critical residents never park in front of fire hydrants.

If you're concerned about a hydrant in your neighbourhood, you can call 3-1-1.