Fire engines can disperse thousands of liters of water each minute, but the supply can quickly run out. During emergencies, it is essential to have an efficient and effective hydrant that can supply the appropriate amount of water at the correct rate to reduce losses and casualties.
Many hydrants are in public locations, which means local government agencies are responsible for regular inspections and maintenance. However, some hydrants may reside on private property, making it essential for the landowner to deliver the proper care.
Regardless of the hydrant's location, cleaning and inspecting the structure is essential. Doing so will help identify any potential problems before they cause significant issues or lead to system failures. Proper care will ensure fire safety teams can quickly spot and utilize the fire hydrant to extinguish flames and reduce losses. Additionally, preventive maintenance will save you time and money in the long run by avoiding costly damage. Keep reading to discover the importance of hydrant maintenance and the proper steps to add to your routine.
The Importance of Fire Hydrant Maintenance
A fire could break out in any location at any time. It is essential to have a functioning fire hydrant during these times to protect people and animals and contain and extinguish the fire spread as quickly as possible. A consistent fire hydrant maintenance routine has several advantages, including:
- Providing accessibility: Maintaining fire hydrants ensure fire safety teams can access the hydrant in times of emergency.
- Delivering consistent water supply: When a fire hydrant receives proper maintenance, you can ensure the system has the correct water quantity to combat fire risks.
- Adhering to regulation compliance: Each sector has unique regulations and protocols. Routine maintenance allows you to ensure the system meets company standards and adheres to requirements.
- Enhancing operational productivity: Hydrant maintenance prevents operational delays. The faster the system can respond to flames, the more frequently you can execute operations in sufficient time.
- Identifying problems: Frequent inspections allow you to notice abnormalities and areas needing repairs. These routines can enable you to identify leaks, damages and system malfunction so you can address the problem before it causes a failure during a time of crisis. Additionally, this can reduce costs later as you minimize the components you need to repair or replace.
- Evaluating flow rate: Firefighters need constant water flow to extinguish a fire. Routine care ensures no leaks or obstructions are affecting water flow.
- Boosting visibility: Hydrants can be in public or private spaces but must be visible. If a fire safety team cannot quickly find the hydrant, they could lose valuable time to prevent substantial losses. Fire hydrant maintenance includes marking the location and cleaning the surrounding area to enhance visibility for fire safety teams and the public.
How Hydrants Can Face Damage
There are several ways fire hydrants can become damaged. Although some circumstances are unpredictable, you can prevent others by taking the necessary precautions for preventive care. For instance, vehicle accidents are a common cause of significant hydrant damage. A car accident could cause small cracks, broken bolts or bent stems. This damage is often costly and time-consuming to address.
To prevent vehicle accidents from damaging your fire hydrants, repaint the structure with reflective paint or place a noticeable flag on the hydrant to mark their location for general traffic and snowplows. Some hydrants may need a new location or bollards for sufficient protection.
Another common cause of hydrant damage is electrolysis. Electricity can move through the system when combing brass with iron or steel. Brass is often a material for internal components, while steel or iron is often on the body. Electrolysis can create significant damage by starting the corrosion process on the structure.
Failing valves are common in dry barrel fire hydrants, often in the country's northern areas. Water can continue to flow through the barrel or fail to drain when a valve has an improper seal. Excess water can become ice during the winter, causing blockages in times of crisis. This problem can lead to other internal damage that can be expensive to fix, depending on the severity of the situation.
Lastly, you must be aware of the force you apply to hydrants when utilizing them. After fighting the flames, it is essential to exercise the valve to release any debris rather than crank the operating nut down. Doing so can prevent valve damage that could result in an inoperable hydrant. Additionally, you must inspect the operating nut for damage to ensure the hydrant does not lock and become unusable. Rely on proper nut equipment for these processes to avoid unnecessary damage.
Maintenance Steps for Fire Hydrants
The most effective and practical way to keep a hydrant in working order is by delivering quality care and preventive maintenance. Create a schedule to provide necessary services promptly, and follow these maintenance steps for your hydrants:
- Exercise the hydrant: Exercising the system will ensure it operates as you expect. Be sure the auxiliary valve is tied to the fire engine when operating it.
- Lubricate the system: Most hydrants will be grease or oil-filled. Referring to the manufacturer's manual will highlight proper lubrication methods. Lubricating the system prevents corrosion, which can make it challenging or impossible to operate the hydrant.
- Flush the hydrant: You must remove foreign substances from the lead line and hydrant. Items like soda cans, chunks of wood, tire innertubes and other things can come into the system, impacting the system by blocking the main valve and hindering your ability to open or close the system.
- Check for standing water: Clogged drains and high-water tables can result in water accumulation. This excess water can freeze in cold climates, blocking the water flow and causing damage to the system. You can inspect standing water by holding your hand over the exposed nozzle to assess the suction. Small amounts of suction indicate proper draining.
- Inspect traffic features: Always ensure breakaway devices have no damage. The type and age of the fire hydrant could affect the breakaway elements, such as bolts or flanges. Some models may not have breakaway features. However, you should also inspect the surrounding area regardless of these features. Ensure no bushes, debris or other elements obstruct the engine from view.
- Look for leaks: You can pressurize the hydrant to inspect for leaks. Remove the cap and operate the system for a few turns. Allow the barrel to fill until a small amount releases from the nozzle. This process allows air to escape, allowing you to monitor leaks in visible joints due to the pressure.
- Evaluate the outlet nozzle caps: Nozzle caps are essential components that can experience corrosion over time. Corrosion can make it difficult to remove the caps. Avoid this problem by removing the caps during routine maintenance to clean them. Consider utilizing lubrication to make it easier to operate the hydrant in the future.
- Record the service: At the end of every service, it is essential to record your maintenance. Each municipality should know when hydrants receive inspections and repairs. If you discover an inoperable hydrant, tag it as quickly as possible to prevent accidental use before it receives the proper repairs or replacement.
Find Water Distribution Equipment Maintenance and Repair
A working fire hydrant makes a significant difference when firefighters are in action. Although many fire water lines are functioning, routine repairs and replacements can extend the life spans of these tools. When you need reliable fire hydrant services, look no further than Bunker Gear Specialists. We provide service you can count on.
We proudly serve parts of Mississippi and the Louisiana area to ensure fire water lines are working correctly. Our team has many years of experience, and we're prepared to replace damaged piping, monitors, valves and hydrants. Contact us for a free service quote for your hydrants.