I enjoy looking for things like hydrant locations and building features whether I am on the job or just out and about. It really makes my wife nuts because I point out what exits we will be using if something happens and things like that. She just doesn’t understand.
Hydrants are a real challenge sometimes. People like to hide them like Easter eggs for the firefighters to find. But, instead of a bright, sunny morning to go hunting for these important pieces of our suppression puzzle, we get to hunt for them in dark, rain or snow driven nights being half awake.
These are just some examples of what property owners do with hydrants. The one shown above is behind a large complex with an anchor store and many ancillary stores in a strip mall. You cannot see this hydrant when you pull into the drive. Notice the leaves are mostly gone and we still can’t see the plug.
This hydrant is the closest to a FDC on the same building. I found this one while doing an inspection at the building next door. I just happen to park where you see this vehicle and as I got out of the vehicle noticed the plug. You have to be looking just in the right place to find this one.
The really bad thing about this plug is that the most obvious hydrant is straight across a four lane road. Odds are that is where the operator would take his line for his supply. In the middle of the night he is going to hit the closest, most visible hydrant.
We don’t only have hydrants that are hidden, but some get damaged and it is never reported or repaired.
It is fairly obvious that we would have a tough time turning this hydrant. We have to have the property owners make these repairs.
Accidents happen and hydrants are not typically an attractive addition to well manicured landscaping. However, we must be diligent to find and make sure corrections are made to keep these valuable resources accessible.
In my experiences, once explained to the property owner the importance of having the hydrant accessible, and the fact that it is a code violation, they are willing to fix the problem. Some jurisdictions will trim brush and trees on their own; be careful doing that, unless there is a fire of course.
Do any of you have a policy on cleaning up around hidden hydrants? Who paints them and what color scheme do you use? Are they identified by size or gallons per minute? Do you share that information with your mutual aid companies?
Take care and remember that we need to sweat some of this small stuff, it may be the difference between success and failure.
Train hard and stay safe.