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Fire Hydrant Testing

March 30, 2012

The rain this week has made it hard to think about any hint of warm spring weather.  I’m thinking Seattle may offer a better chance of seeing any sun this week!

Despite that, we started our engine companies out on hydrant testing again for this year.  If you know many firefighters, you know that they spend a lot of time ensuring equipment is ready to go.  Fire hydrants constitute a big part of our ability to attack and suppress structure fires.  Without a reliable water supply, our operations can be severely impacted.  In rural areas, we use water tenders to bring the water.  In more urbanized areas, the water district installs fire hydrants for water supply.  Testing these fire hydrants accomplishes a couple of things for us.

First of all, we get our eyeballs on the fire hydrant to ensure it’s still something we can use.  We ensure the port caps can be removed and the valve still operates.  Sometimes vegetation grows up and obscures the fire hydrant from view.  If our guys can’t find the hydrant quickly, seconds are lost and bad things are happening to the burning house while we try to find the hydrant.  Sometimes fences get built that block access to the hydrant.  We work with homeowners to ensure visibility and access to fire hydrants is maintained.  After all, that fire hydrant protects the entire neighborhood, not just the one property owner.

Secondly, we flow test our fire hydrants periodically.  You may see our guys opening the hydrant and taking measurements on how much water is flowing and at what pressure.  This data tells us a lot about the health of the water system.  If we see fluctuations in the amount of flow or pressure, we get with the water district to find out what’s wrong.  Sometimes a valve has been closed restricting water flow.  Sometimes there is a blockage that must be removed.  Whatever the problem is, water districts are very attentive to system maintenance.  They want their water system operating at peak performance just as much as we do.

Lastly, your insurance company likes it when we test fire hydrants.  The more a fire department works at  readiness to fight fire, the lower your insurance rate typically is.  So by testing fire hydrants and keeping meticulous records, we can prove to the Insurance Rating Bureau that we’re practicing due diligence to ensure the water system is ready to supply fire flow needs.  That helps to keep your homeowner’s insurance rates down.

With over 1800 fire hydrants, our guys will be out flow testing hydrants clear up into early summer (we like to finish this up before summer heat impacts water reservoir levels).  So if you see a fire engine and a group of our guys out flowing water, they’re making sure your hydrant system is ready in case we get an invitation to your neighborhood.

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From → Preparedness

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