SW Legal studies in Business

City Water Company Not Liable for Poor Water Pressure that Allowed Fire to Burn
Description

Washington high court held that a city is legally a “water company” under state law when it provides water in its jurisdiction. While it is responsible for providing water, it is not liable for damages suffered when water pressure is inadequate to allow a fire hydrant to be useful in putting out a fire.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Municipal Corporations; Liability; Water Supply

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

The Fisks’ recreational vehicle (RV) caught fire when in Kirkland, Washington. When the fire department responded, there was insufficient pressure in the fire hydrant to allow water to be put on the fire. By the time another hydrant was used, the RV had suffered more damage. The Fisks sued the City of Kirkland for negligence in failing to maintain proper water pressure so as to be able to deal with fires. They contended that the city should be liable for the added damage suffered during the extra time needed to find proper water pressure. The district court dismissed the suit. The Fisks appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. A municipal corporation such as the City of Kirkland can be a “water company.” The statute that provides that all water companies must furnish and supply such service, instrumentalities, and facilities as shall be safe, adequate, and efficient did not explicitly create a duty on the part of the city to provide water for fire suppression purposes. The statute did not imply a cause of action against a water company for inadequate supply of water for fire suppression, so there can be no suit for negligence.

Citation

Fisk v. City of Kirkland, 194 P.3d 984 (Sup. Ct., Wash., 2008)

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