Posts Tagged ‘fire hydrants’

October 7, 2019

A Fire Hydrant’s Important Role in the Health and Safety of our Community

While many of us drive or walk past fire hydrants without much thought, Des Moines Water Works takes great pride in the installation and maintenance of the nearly 10,000 fire hydrants in Des Moines and surrounding communities. Fire hydrants provide an essential function in the maintenance of the water system and adequate fire protection for our community.

Every year in the fall, fire hydrant inspection or “hydrant walking” is completed to ensure all fire hydrants in the system are in working order. This annual inspection ensures hydrants have not been damaged or are not holding water that could freeze over winter, both of which would render the hydrant unusable in the event of an emergency.

While Des Moines Water Works is responsible for maintenance of the fire hydrants that firefighters use to protect our community, fire hydrants are actually used more frequently for water system maintenance. Any time maintenance is performed on the water system (i.e. water main break, valve repair, etc.), air is allowed to escape from the pipes through the hydrant, and water is flushed from the hydrant to ensure water delivered to customers following maintenance is clear. You can help Des Moines Water Works and your fire department by following these simple tips to keep fire hydrants working properly and accessible when they are needed:

  • Keep cars, bikes, toys and other objects away from fire hydrants at all times.
  • During winter months, shovel snow away from fire hydrants.
  • Mow and trim grass or weeds around fire hydrants near your property.
  • Do not plant flowers or shrubs around fire hydrants.
  • Do not paint fire hydrants – the color of the fire hydrant top is indicative of water flow available for fire protection.

Unauthorized use of a hydrant can cause significant damage to the distribution system, the hydrant, and your home or business plumbing. Additionally, it may cause damage to our water supply. Any unauthorized use of a fire hydrant may result in a $1,500 fine and misdemeanor charges.

If you notice a damaged fire hydrant or witness suspicious activity near a fire hydrant, please call Des Moines Water Works at (515) 283-8700. Your call is important to the water service and fire protection of your home, business and others around you.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 2 Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Customers, Infrastructure October 15, 2012

How a Fire Hydrant Works

October is Fire Prevention Month.  Learn why fire hydrants are so important to fire protection here.

There are nearly 10,000 fire hydrants in the Des Moines Water Works distribution system, and while fire hydrants are a familiar sight, the business end of the hydrant is something that many people will never see.

Like an iceberg, there is actually more of a fire hydrant below the ground than there is above the ground.  That is because fire hydrants must connect to the water main and the water must be controlled far enough below ground to ensure that water in the piping will not freeze.  If water freezes inside a fire hydrant during the winter months, the ice will block the flow of water rendering the hydrant unusable in an emergency situation.

A fire hydrant is basically a pipe with threaded fire hose nozzles at the top (above ground), and a water control valve at the bottom (six feet below ground).  Fire fighters use a special wrench to open the hydrant’s water control valve which allows water to flow up the “pipe” (the barrel of the hydrant) and out the nozzles.  When the hydrant is shut off, any water left in the barrel drains out through specially designed drain openings which only open when the hydrant is not in use.

Bonus: Do you know why the tops or “bonnets” of fire hydrants are painted different colors? Learn here.

Posted by: Ted Corrigan 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customers, Infrastructure October 8, 2012

Fire Hydrant Importance

October is Fire Prevention Month.  Des Moines Water Works collaborates with City of Des Moines Fire Department and other communities’ fire departments to properly maintain fire hydrants.

There are more than 10,000 hydrants in the Des Moines Water Works distribution system, and while fire hydrants are a familiar sight, we should all be aware of the importance of each hydrant to the community – not only for firefighting, but also for operation and maintenance of the water system.

Because they are so important, the fire hydrants in Des Moines Water Works distribution system receive a lot of attention.  Each public fire hydrant receives regular maintenance on a three-year rotating schedule. In addition, each year in the fall, every fire hydrant is inspected to ensure it is not holding water that could freeze and to confirm that it has not been hit by vehicles or damaged in some other way.  Most hydrants in the system are designed to break away if they are hit by a vehicle.  This reduces damage to the vehicle and the hydrant and allows the hydrant to be returned to service quickly.

Des Moines Water Works is responsible for maintenance of the fire hydrants that fire fighters use to protect our community. Help the local fire department and Des Moines Water Works by following these simple tips to keep fire hydrants working properly and accessible when they are needed:

  • Keep cars, bikes, toys and other objects away from fire hydrants at all times.
  • During winter months, shovel snow away from fire hydrants.
  • Mow and trim grass or weeds around fire hydrants near your property.
  • Do not plant flowers or shrubs around fire hydrants.
  • Do not paint fire hydrants – the color of the fire hydrant is indicative of water flow available for fire protection.

Unauthorized use of a hydrant can cause significant damage to the distribution system, the hydrant and your home or business plumbing.  Additionally, it may cause damage to our water supply. Any unauthorized use of a fire hydrant may result in a $1,500 fine and misdemeanor charges.

If you notice a damaged fire hydrant or witness suspicious activity near a fire hydrant, please call Des Moines Water Works at (515) 283-8700.  Your call is important to the fire protection of your home, business and others around you.

Tip: Do you know why the tops or “bonnets” of fire hydrants are painted different colors? Learn here.

Posted by: Ted Corrigan 4 Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Customer Service, Infrastructure May 9, 2011

Fire Hydrant Color Coding and Maintenance

Have you ever wondered why the bonnets (the top portion) of fire hydrants in Des Moines are painted different colors?

Every fire hydrant in Des Moines is color coded to indicate how much water is available from that hydrant for fire fighting.  The bonnet is painted a specific color in accordance with National Fire Prevention Association Standard 291.  This color coding allows fire fighters to quickly determine which hydrants in a given area will provide the best flow of water for fighting a fire.  The different colors represent the flow available from the hydrant in gallons per minute.  The color codes used in Des Moines are as follows:

  • Red = 0 to 500 gallons per minute
  • Orange = 500 to 1,000 gallons per minute
  • Green = more than 1,000 gallons per minute

Des Moines Water Works owns and maintains almost 10,000 fire hydrants in Des Moines and  surrounding communities.  Each of the hydrants receives regular maintenance including an annual check every fall to ensure the hydrant has not been damaged and is not standing full of water that could freeze during the winter months, rendering the hydrant unusable in the event of an emergency.  In addition, every fire hydrant receives more thorough maintenance every two to three years to ensure the moving parts are well lubricated and in proper working order.

Fire hydrants are actually used more frequently for water system maintenance than for fire fighting.  Any time maintenance is performed on the water system, air is allowed to escape from the pipes through the hydrant, and water is flushed from the hydrant to ensure water delivered to customers following maintenance is clear.

Posted by: Ted Corrigan 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Value of Water, Water Quality