Thorsby Fire Department to test hydrants

Published 5:54 pm Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Thorsby Fire Department will begin testing the town’s fire hydrants next week, a process that will take residents’ help and patience.

The hydrants are tested twice a year, Fire Chief Lee Gunn said, for property insurance purposes and to monitor changes with water flow.

The system is flushed to remove any impurities, and then a gauge measures water flow at each of the hydrants.

Firefighters place a colored cap on each hydrant that corresponds with the amount of water flow it is capable of producing, Public Safety Officer Lt. Phillip Porter said. A red cap is put on a hydrant capable of producing 0–499 gallons per minute, an orange cap is for 500–999, green for 1,000–1,499 and blue for 1,500 and above.

“This is also important to know when going to a big building fire, to know which hydrant you should use to get the most water for that fire, or (if) you will use more than one hydrant for that fire,” Porter said.

There are about 135 hydrants in Thorsby, Gunn said.

While hydrants are being tested through May, town residents could notice stained or dirty water at their homes.

Porter said some off-color water is expected because of sediment in the water lines. He said fire officials are coordinating their efforts with Thorsby Water Works to minimize stained or dirty water.

The water is not dangerous to consume.

Fire officials asked for residents’ help with maintaining property around hydrants.

Porter said the International Fire Code calls for a “3-foot clear space…around the circumference of fire hydrants.”

“This is very important (because) in case of a fire, we would not be able to access a fire hydrant,” Porter said. “There are some areas in the city that have various plants or bushes around these hydrants.

“The fire department encourages all homeowners to maintain a 3-foot clearance around these hydrants located in their yards.”