FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla.- We all know the significant role a fire hydrant plays when firefighters are dispatched to fight a fire, but imagine the danger homes are in, if a hydrant is not easily accessible. Well, that's the problem one Fort Myers Beach community was facing. Only WINK News gets a look at the turbo draft, a new weapon that will help firefighters when minutes matter.
"There's a real potential we could lose one, two or maybe even three homes without this devic0e," said Captain Ron Martin. An area of Bayside Estates on Fort Myers Beach lacks a critical piece of firefighting equipment; about 100 homes in the community are not near a fire hydrant.
"Due to the age, they just have very poor access to fire hydrant set ups and dedicated fire lines feeding those hydrants," said Captain Martin.
One of the most extreme cases is on Eglantine Lane. Believe it or not, the closest hydrant to that road is actually 3,010 feet away. According to Captain Ron Martin, that means it could take firefighters 10 to 15 minutes to pull enough hose to reach the fire.
"We were concerned that if we had a fire in that section we would lose many of the homes," said Jose Ruiz, Park Manager.
But now, they have the Turbo Draft. It allows firefighters to pull water from a canal, a swimming pool or a river. It's a cheaper alternative to a hydrant. Firefighters attach two hoses to it and throw it in the water and it immediately begins sucking in water and feeding back to the engine.
"They were concerned before and now they are satisfied and relieved knowing they have some sort of protection," said Ruiz.
Three of them were purchased by Bayside Estates and given to the fire department, now people can sleep easier knowing they are better protected.
Bayside Estates spent just under $8,000 to buy three Turbo Drafts for the department. One fire hydrant would have cost $300,000. The Tice Fire Department is another district using the device.