How To Open A Fire Hydrant

How To Open A Fire Hydrant

Below we'll go over how to open a fire hydrant lawfully, what you'll need to get permission or a permit, how and when to open the fire hydrant carefully without hurting yourself or anyone else, what tools you'll need to open the fire hydrant, what to do once the fire hydrant is open, and how to turn off and shut the hydrant down after it's been used.

What Are Fire Hydrants And Why Are They Needed?

A fire hydrant is a location where firefighters can gain access to a water supply and connect to it.

It could be underground or in the form of a pillar above ground. 

A fire hydrant is an essential part of active firefighting. Fire hydrants must therefore be kept clear of obstructions and in good functioning order.

To provide water for firefighting, fire hydrants are utilized to draw water straight out from a regional mains supply.

They are used by firefighting equipment to supply or refill the tank.

It is critical that firefighters have quick access to water supplies in the case of a fire.

How Do Fire Hydrants Work?

Underground hydrants are positioned in a chamber beneath the road or path's surface.

A lid with the initials "FH" is commonly used to cover them, although a few tops will have other symbols. 

A standpipe is required to obtain the water supply, and a specially constructed key is required to effectively turn the water on.

In the case of pillar-type hydrants, they allow for above-ground connection of equipment for firefighting purposes.

Why Is It Illegal To Improperly Access A Fire Hydrant?

  • It poses a threat to others - Fire hydrants do not fill themselves with water on their own; they require water pressure from the main water system. 
  • Whenever a fire hydrant is opened, there is frequently a system-wide pressure that is depleted. 
  • As a result, if someone close has a fire and the fire department wants to use their fire hydrant, there may not be enough water to successfully put out the fire.
  • It is hazardous to you - A fire hydrant’s water is under a lot of pressure. When you open a fire hydrant, the rush of water that follows is likely to exceed 100 miles per hour. 
  • If you or those in your vicinity stray into the direction of this high-speed jet, you will likely be harmed.
  • The fire hydrant may be damaged - Fire hydrants must be opened in a specific way, and if you don't know what you're doing, you'll likely leave the hydrant's valve only partially open. 
  • This could cause the water's force to significantly harm the hydrant and necessitate its replacement.

How To Open A Fire Hydrant: Step-by-Step Guide

1. Contact Your Local Fire Department

The first step is to contact or visit your local fire department and inquire if accessing the hydrant is possible, and if so, how to do so. Obtaining permission for use is normally required.

In other cities, such as NYC, the fire department may come to where you want to open the hydrant in order to provide assistance for safe usage.

In some cases, you'll have to file for and be given a fire hydrant permit.

Sure, it takes some time, but it's usually not an expensive process, and it's a lot less expensive than destroying a fire hydrant or paying a hefty fine for the violation.

When you have the authorization to use a hydrant, you'll usually get a "spray cap" as well.

A spray cap is a tool that you connect to a hydrant prior to opening it to minimize the amount of water pressure that is released.

The fleeing water is less likely to knock you off your feet and cause physical or property damage.

It also decreases the overall impact of water demand on the system, ensuring that other hydrants are not left without sufficient pressure to function properly.

To securely open a fire hydrant that you have the legal authority to access (including a locked hydrant), follow these steps:

2. Set Up A Perimeter

Begin by blocking off the surrounding area in some fashion to serve as a warning. This ensures that once the water shoots out, it is unlikely to reach a passer-by, albeit this is only a precaution if you have the "spray cap" on properly.

Examine the fire hydrant to make sure everything feels secure and stable, and that no parts are loose or clearly in disrepair.

If there are any issues, call your local fire department and wait for them to arrive and address any issues prior to opening the hydrant.

3. Unlock The Fire Hydrant

To unlock the hydrant valve, insert the key in the holder, if one is available, and turn the key counterclockwise. 

Make sure to turn the key carefully, as you don't want to break the hydrant, and turn it all the way so the valve is completely open. A partially opened valve may damage the hydrant system as well as you.

When there is no lock, it should take about three full revolutions to open the valve of a fire hydrant, and you should do so carefully and thoroughly to ensure maximum safety.

4. Close The Fire Hydrant

Once you've finished, to close the hydrant and return things to normal, simply reverse the process.

Final Thoughts

We hope you found this article useful and that you now realize why opening a fire hydrant is a serious affair. It is not something you should undertake lightly when you're just looking for some water for your kids to play in on a hot day. 

When anyone accesses a fire hydrant without implementing the appropriate procedure, they could face harsh consequences, including fines and possibly jail time.

When installed with a spray cap to minimize the water table from becoming depleted too quickly, using a fire hydrant in the correct circumstances may be highly beneficial and could prevent serious fire damage. 

So don't take this as a message to never look into opening a fire hydrant, but instead, as an encouragement to do so the right way and by the rules in order to keep everyone, including yourself, safe.