Because fire hydrants are such a vital part of safety infrastructure, it is necessary to ensure their functionality at all times. Assessments such as a hydrant flow test can help ensure that it is operational if performed as part of routine maintenance. Here are some potential issues that may arise involving hydrants and how to address them.
Water or Ice in Barrel
There are two different types of fire hydrants: Wet barrel and dry barrel. The barrel is the part of the hydrant that extends up above the ground. A wet barrel hydrant contains water at all times. A dry barrel hydrant, which is the more common type, keeps the water underground, rather than in the barrel, until it is needed to extinguish a fire. If there is water in a dry barrel hydrant, it means that something is wrong. If there is ice in a hydrant, that poses an even bigger problem because ice can impede water flow in an emergency.
The most immediate solution is to drain the water from the barrel. The next step is to determine how water got trapped there in the first place. This problem may occur because of a leaky hydrant valve or faulty drain, which should be repaired immediately. A high groundwater table could also be responsible, in which case the solution may be just to pump out the barrel following every use.
Tightness of Outlet Caps
The outlet caps cover the openings to which firefighters attach hoses to access the water during a fire. The caps may be either too tight or too loose. In the latter case, the solution is merely to tighten them. If the problem is that the caps are too tight, they may require lubrication to loosen them to an acceptable level.
Hydrants require ongoing maintenance. The time to find out there is a problem is not when they are needed because of a fire.