Only half of the country’s 5,000 fire hydrants work, and an additional 5,000 hydrants are needed to meet the country’s needs, firemen told the daily Al Día.
Twelve communities have no fire hydrant, including Santa Bárbara de Heredia, north of San José; San Rafael de Alajuela, northwest of San José; León XIII in Tibás in north San José, and Paracito de Moravia, northeast of San José.
The major problem is that no single agency exists to install and maintain hydrants, which fall victim to lack of maintenance and vandals.
Installing a large hydrant costs ¢2 million ($4,024) and the cost of a smaller hydrant, for a residential community, is ¢500,000 ($1,006), the daily reported. The ideal would be to have hydrants 300 meters apart.
The National Water and Sewer Service (AyA) said its duty is to provide water to the hydrants for free, not install them. Those that do exist were installed through community initiatives with the support of municipalities and firefighters, according to Al Día.
Exacerbating Costa Rica’s fire danger is the reality that many communities have no fire station, including popular and fast-growing tourist towns of Tamarindo, in the northwest province of Guanacaste, Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean slope, and La Fortuna, near Arenal Volcano (TT,May 27, 2005).
Costa Rica has only 61 fire stations, or one for every 65,838 inhabitants, according to the National Insurance Institute (INS).