Keeping fire hydrants clear so they work

JACKSON, MO (KFVS) - Fire hydrants often stay dormant for a very long time but are one of the most important tools for a firefighter when a fire happens.

So, what goes into making sure they work?

"If there is a problem with a fire hydrant, usually public works is right on top of it because they know how important it is to our work," Captain Robert Greif, Jackson Fire Rescue said.

A lot goes into testing a hydrant to make sure that it works when the time comes.

After flushing any debris and sediment out they put it full blast to test the flow.

"A fire hydrant is our connection to a water source," Captain Greif said. "It's what allows us to have copious amounts of water on fire scenes."

Not all hydrants are made the same. Some have a higher output of water, depending on where they are.

"That's why in the city of Jackson we flow our fire hydrants and color code them to where they are red, yellow, orange, green or blue so that we can identify how many gallons per minute that fire hydrant puts out," Greif said.

The colors are based on the National Fire Protection Association's standards.

During testing, the department marks all of the gallons per minute into a system they can check on iPads and their phones.

"As we're responding to your location, we can already identify what hydrant is within your area and how many hydrants that we have," Captain Greif said. "So, if we're responding to a fire and we see a red fire hydrant or a green or a blue we're going to detour the red and hit the green or the blue."

In the state of Missouri, there are no laws designating a no parking zone around fire hydrants, that's up to each location to make their own.

In the city of Jackson, it's three-feet in any direction of the hydrant.

"I always like to explain it as the blue box is ours and everything else is yours," Captain Greif said. "People don't understand they want to decorate it, they want to landscape it. But, it also affects how quick we hook to it. So, it makes a difference between a total loss of a home and very minimal loss."

For the state of Illinois, it's 15 feet from the hydrant.

Captain Greif says there will not always be markings showing where not to park near a hydrant, so it's best to know the law where you live.

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