During Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 6-12), I join local water utilities throughout Massachusetts in reminding residents about the critical but often overlooked role that local water supplies -- and the systems that deliver them -- play in fighting fires and protecting public safety.
A properly functioning, well-maintained water system delivers reliable supplies at a high pressure and volume that can mean the difference between a small, manageable fire and a destructive, raging inferno.
But water infrastructure -- the pipes, distribution mains, wells, pumping equipment, and other components invisible to the public eye -- is aging and rapidly disintegrating.
This condition is especially prevalent in New England, where a number of public water systems are more than 100 years old.
To safeguard communities from the ever-present threat of fire, local communities must invest in rehabilitating, improving and replacing their water infrastructure so that life-saving water can flow uninterrupted from a source of supply, through a network of underground pipes, to the corner hydrant.
I also encourage local communities to support the National Fire Protection Association's campaign to prevent fires in the kitchen, the leading area of origin for home fires, by urging their residents to be more cautious and vigilant, especially when using the stove (visit nfpa.org for information).
During Fire Prevention Week, water works professionals throughout New England applaud our region's firefighters for their courageous, dedicated, and selfless public service.
For information on the value of water, visit thevalueofwater.org.
RAYMOND J. RAPOSA
New England Water Works Association