Did you know that homeowners are responsible for maintaining access to fire hydrants?
After a house in Mirrormont burned last April, I heard that firefighters had trouble hooking up the hoses to the fire hydrant serving that location because it had gotten partially buried and overgrown. They wasted valuable time digging and clearing. If it had happened during the dry season, those minutes could have been critical. This is an issue that impacts all of us in this forested community.
To sort out who is responsible for what, I met with ER&R/Fire District 10’s Capt. Ducey at Fire Station 78, who showed me the relevant Washington Administrative Codes (WAC). I learned that the water purveyor is responsible for testing, maintenance, and painting of fire hydrants. So I corresponded with Scott Bailey, General Manager of Washington Water Service Company. He provided me with addresses for Mirrormont’s 42 hydrants and their maintenance schedule. Painting is on a five-year schedule, and will next occur in the Spring or Summer of 2017. For maximum visibility, the body will be reflective yellow and the bonnet will be coded as follows:
BLUE: 1500 GPM or more—very good flows
GREEN: 1000-1499 GPM—good for residential areas
ORANGE: 500-999 GPM—marginally adequate
RED: below 500 GPM—inadequate
Their maintenance consists of flowing the hydrant, operating all valves, inspection to insure proper operation, documentation, and preventative maintenance. Mirrormont Services installed almost all of our hydrants in 1966-69.
Fire hydrant code states, “The owner/occupant of any area in which a hydrant is located shall be responsible for removing weed and tree growth from around the hydrant for a distance of no less than a 36-inch radius, also maintaining an eight-foot clear space at the edge of the road directly in front of the hydrant and area between the road and the hydrant. Continuous maintenance is required.” The center of the lowest outlet must be no less than 18 inches above the ground for clearance of the hydrant wrench used to attach the hoses.
I recently liberated the hydrant on my property, which trailing blackberries had wrapped in bondage. Please take responsibility for bringing your fire hydrant up to code—or help your neighbor to do so. Our lives may depend on it.