Water company warns against tampering with hydrants

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A series of tampering incidents involving fire hydrants has brought a warning from Pennsylvania American Water.

Spokesman Gary Lobaugh said 10 hydrants have been opened in Baldwin Borough, Bethel Park and Peters since union workers walked off the job last month.

"While we have no direct evidence linking our employees to any of the hydrant tampering, it is an unfortunate and possibly dangerous coincidence that it only began occurring since our workers walked off the job on June 18," he said.

J. Kevin Booth, president of Utility Workers Union of America Local 537, denied that members were involved in the tampering.

"The company is well aware that this is not an isolated incident. This happens every year at this time when the temperature gets above 80 degrees. In the summertime, kids open fire hydrants and play in them all the time," he said.

"We certainly don't condone it. I need people on the picket lines. I don't need them out opening hydrants," Mr. Booth said.

Mr. Lobaugh said the number of incidents far exceeds what is normal for the start of summer.

Penn American warned that hydrant tampering is a federal crime that can bring civil and criminal penalties. It also can be dangerous in the event of a fire. The company asked anyone witnessing hydrant tampering to report it to police.Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com.

First Published July 2, 2014 12:00 AM

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