Maps Made to Spot Water Sources In Rural Districts

Maps Made to Spot Water Sources In Rural Districts

The rapid growth of many areas outside large cities makes it difficult for fire departments to keep up with new streets, and since there is a limited number of hydrants—or none—in rural areas, it is helpful to have a map showing the locations of streams and ponds that’ can be used as water sources.

If maps are not available from local government agencies and your fire department is near a large city, the planning commission in that city may have detailed maps of the area surrounding the city. We found that the Topeka Planning Commission has such maps for Soldier Township and we bought 15 section maps covering our area.

Maps pieced together

Each map was about 3 feet square. We trimmed the borders and matched the section maps so that all 15 fit in a 7 X 8-foot wall space. The area covered is 7 X 9 miles with a scale of 1 inch to the foot. This gives us a detailed map showing all waterways and we are now adding all the ponds to the map.

All our roads are listed on cards in a rotary file. Each card shows the direction the road runs, such as north and south or east and west, and there is a description of the road’s location so the radio operator can direct the volunteers to the fire. Each card also has a reference letter and number, such as J-9, that is keyed to letters across the top of the master map and numbers down the side every 6 inches.

Time saved on road

I feel that the few seconds to spot the fire location on the map can be made up during the apparatus response because the chance of making a wrong turn is minimized. By the time the apparatus arrives at the fire, the dispatcher can spot all the good water sources in the immediate area, such as hydrants, ponds, creeks, rock quarries, etc. This can be a tremendous help at night when it is possible to drive past a pond.

An all-volunteer fire department can use such a map system to locate the fire and water sources before leaving the station. It takes a little time, but it’s worth the effort. We all know what happens when we run out of water.

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