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In operating a water system, a city is a public service corporation. A public service corporation is under a legal obligation to render adequate service impartially and without discrimination to all members of the general public to whom its scope of operation extends.
The defendant city’s function as a municipal corporation at the site of the fire was to furnish, supply, and distribute water for the benefit of the inhabitants. The defendant city had failed to distribute, supply, or provide water for fighting fires at the site, so there was no available supply of water to fight the fire. Plaintiff property owners sought to recover for damages sustained to their property as a result of a fire. The trial court found that the defendant city was operating in a governmental capacity in furnishing water for the fighting of fires and had no duty to supply water for fire protection. Plaintiff property owners appealed.
Under the circumstances, did the defendant city have no duty to supply water for fire protection, thereby justifying the grant of judgment in defendant’s favor?
The court noted that whether the city was acting in a governmental capacity was irrelevant. The court determined that the city, in operating a water system, was a public service corporation. The court indicated that a public service corporation was under a legal obligation to render adequate service impartially and without discrimination to all members of the general public. The court concluded that because the city had assumed the responsibility of furnishing reasonable fire protection, it had the duty to provide it to all of its inhabitants, including the property owners. The court indicated that what was reasonable protection was for a jury to decide. The court reversed the judgment.