Pittsburgh public safety director criticizes company after Carrick water main break
Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich was upset early Friday with the Pennsylvania American Water Co. over what he described as a “lack of communication” during a major water main break in Carrick.
At one point, Hissrich, who was on the scene shortly after the break was reported at 5 a.m., threatened to detain an unidentified female Penn American representative.
“I’ve been here for five hours trying to make sure people are safe and I haven’t heard anything from Pennsylvania American Water,” he told the woman.
Penn American spokesman Gary Lobaugh said the company was in contact with the city’s Department of Public Works throughout the event.
“We’ll reach out to the public safety director to figure out where the disconnect is to improve communications with his team,” he said.
The water main break on East Agnew Avenue damaged homes and streets, required Pittsburgh first responders to rescue several residents trapped in their homes and caused the closure of numerous area schools.
Hissrich said he prefers to set up a “unified command” with representatives of all parties responding to critical events such as the water main break so they can best respond to public safety problems.
“What they did not respond to in a timely manner was the command structure that was set up here,” he said. “I was told that they did have numerous people throughout the city trying to assess the situation and trying to shut off the water, but here, yes, I was upset.“
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .