HONESDALE – Aqua Pennsylvania Inc. said its $10.3 million investment to replace its aging distribution system in Honesdale has significantly improved the borough’s firefighting capability over the last five years.

Since 2008, Aqua has spent $14.6 million on the water system in the borough, of which $10.3 million was invested on infrastructure improvements including the replacement of smaller diameter cast iron water mains with new, larger ductile iron mains.

The main replacement projects included the replacement of old fire hydrants.

A fire on East Street on June 7 was brought under control within 10 minutes of the fire department’s arrival, according to Fire Chief Steve Bates.

Steve Clark, Aqua area manager, said East Street was the first in Honesdale on which the company replaced water main after purchasing the system in 2008.

“One of the reasons we addressed East Street first was because there had been a terrible residential fire there just prior to our ownership of the Honesdale system,” Clark said in a release.

That fire was at a house in the 1700 block of East Street.

“That fire destroyed two houses and the flames got so hot they melted siding on houses across the street,” Bates said. “There’s no question that a sound water distribution system can make a big difference in whether a property is lost to fire."

Bates said he can "definitely" see a difference in the water system from the 2008 fire and the one June 7.

Another improvement the water company has made to enhance firefighting is the installation of Storz adapter fittings on all replacement hydrants in Honesdale.

“The Storz fitting allows the fire department to connect to a hydrant much more quickly than a standard threaded fitting,” explained Clark.

The Storz requires just a quarter turn to lock onto a hydrant versus a typical threaded fitting which could take 10 full turns to tighten onto a hydrant, Clark said.

The hydrant used to fight the recent fire on East Street is equipped with the Storz fitting.

Aqua plans to spend $930,000 on similar distribution system improvements in Honesdale this year.

Aqua Pennsylvania’s Honesdale Division serves a population of more than 25,000 people in Wayne, Lackawanna, Monroe and Pike counties.

Overall, the company serves approximately 1.4 million people in 31 counties throughout Pennsylvania.