Duo tampers with 20 fire hydrants, exhaust water supply, officials say

Demand multiplied by almost five times, city officials say

By Brianna Volz - Web producer

TITUSVILLE, Fla. - Two men accused of tampering with at least 20 fire hydrants in Brevard County are facing charges after officials said the pair caused the demand in water to skyrocket.

Brevard County deputies arrested Bradley Taylor, 19, and Brian Shipley, 19, around 2 a.m. Friday after finding that the pair unscrewed the caps on 17 hydrants in Titusville and four in Mims, city officials said.

Officials with the City of Titusville said operators at a production plant noticed late Thursday that the demand for water spiked to almost five times as much as the average amount for that time of night.

City officials said operators must continuously pump water into the plant in order to maintain the pressure needed to prevent conditions that contaminate the water. Otherwise, officials would eventually need to issue a boil water notice. Mims and Titusville water departments were both in emergency mode, deputies said.

Once the operators took steps to meet the demand, they notified Titusville police and firefighters of the spike in order to determine who or what caused it, which eventually led to the men’s arrests.

City officials expanded on the dangers of tampering with fire hydrants.

Tampering with fire hydrants is a crime. It is a crime that can cause significant impact to both the safety and health to everyone on the water system. Hydrants provide water at a high pressure. If opened by unauthorized persons, the force of the flow from the hydrant can cause damage to surrounding property and cause safety hazards to roadways and motorists. Most importantly, fire hydrants affect system pressure. A drop in pressure can mean that water would not be available for fires and other emergencies; it also means water would not be available or sufficient for critical use facilities such as dialysis centers, hospitals, and other health care centers. If a water system lost system pressure, then all customers on the system would be required to boiled water prior to consumption. 

Taylor and Shipley are facing 20 counts of preventing the use equipment in the extinguishment of fire, reports show.

Officials said Titusville’s water quality maintained its quality during the incident.

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