How 1K broken fire hydrants across Detroit could be putting your home, business at risk

DETROIT – There are more than 1,000 fire hydrants that are out of commission across Detroit and they could be putting your home or business at risk.

Local 4 was able to access some city records that are not shared with the public and found out that there are 1,300 broken hydrants across the city. According to a tip, many are not working because of vandals. Thieves are after the brass threads on hydrants, and they bring them to scrap yards.

“I want my neighborhood to be safe. I want my fire hydrants to be working,” said Detroit resident Jamel Cromwell.

Firefighters shared their frustrations with Local 4 as 1,300 hydrants are out of commission, meaning when they have to fight a fire there is no water available.

After going through some logs of reported broken hydrants, it had numerous examples of reports month after month.


Read: Detroit now has $100M to replace lead service lines over next 3 years


Here is what Director of Detroit’s Water and Sewage Gary Brown has to say about the issues

Drew: How can hydrants be broken for months? Because you are, it’s on your radar?

Brown: Yeah, it is on our radar. We want to prioritize them and go do the blocks in which they have more than two inoperable.

Drew: But you have to understand when I’m sitting here talking with my firefighter sources, they’re telling me we’re out there fighting fires, we pull up to a hydrant, we can’t get water. What am I supposed to say to them? And what are you supposed to say to the families who are expecting these firefighters to have water?

Brown: What we say to them is we give them tablets, and the tablets on the way to the fire have the operable fire hydrants and the ones that are working and so you know which one isn’t working when you show up at that fire connect to one that is.

Drew: I have to ask you, Mr. Brown, there are more than 1000 that are not working, that can’t be acceptable.

Brown: It’s acceptable that within 30 days we got 168 fixed just last week.

Drew: And so by now you’re telling me in 30 days, you’re gonna get over 1,000 fire hydrants fixed.

Brown: That’s my goal.

Drew: Okay, so it’s mid-January. I’m going to come back in 30 days, and we’ll see 1,000 fire hydrants.

Brown: I guarantee you, my mayor is going to be counting on me a lot harder than you are today.


Click here to make a report of a broken hydrant in your neighborhood.


About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.

Elizabeth Washington is a Digital News Editor and has been with Local 4 News since April 2022.