By: Cheryl Thurston
The Elizabethtown Fire Department will begin a Hydrant painting project, starting on Monday, August 31, in which they will repaint all the fire hydrants in the town, turning them Blue, Green, Orange, or Red. If you are not a fire fighter, you may think that all fire hydrants are the same. You may not be aware that 2 hydrants on the same street can deliver very different water flows, depending on the elevation, the water source and the direction of the flow.
The Color-Code System that is being put in place will alert fire fighters, at a glance, to the amount of water they can expect to pump from any hydrant in Elizabethtown. The specifications are as follows. A hydrant with a barrel that is painted Blue will allow for pumping 1500 gallons per minute; a Green hydrant will pump between 1000 and 1499 gallons per minute; an Orange hydrant will pump 500 to 999 gallons per minute; and a Red hydrant will pump less than 500 gallons per minute.
Water is the best, easiest, and most readily available fire fighting tool around, but if you have a large fire and a low capacity hydrant, your fire fighters may have extreme difficulty putting your fire out. That happened in Elizabethtown once before. When the color-coding system goes into place, fire fighters will use it to save valuable time on the scene.
In 2004, there was a building at the corner of W. King and Poplar Streets being consumed by a raging fire. “I remember that fire,” said Deputy Fire Chief, Jamie Smith, “It was what we call an All Day Fire, we fought it with all we had, and ended up bringing down the town’s water supply. We even had to resort to Drop Tanks on the ground because we had exhausted the water that was available through the hydrants.” You’ll notice, there is no building on that lot now.
Before any painting can begin, all hydrants must be tested to determine their capacity to deliver a steady flow of water. Using a Flow Meter, E’town’s Fire Department will measure the number of gallons per minute that can be pulled from each hydrant, and will know what color to paint the barrel of each hydrant. The painting project will likely be finished by the end of October.
This testing will begin on Monday, and could cause some slight discoloration of the water that comes out of your tap for a short time. The Elizabethtown Fire Department is making this announcement to inform the community about what they are doing and why, and also to make you aware that there may be some discoloration of the town’s tap water during the testing. All will return to normal as soon as the water passes through the lines.
The town of Elizabethtown gets it’s water supply from 5 Lift Stations that pump from underground wells. For more information about the water supply and water treatment for Elizabethtown, please visit the Water Department’s website. If you see the Fire Department out testing hydrants, drive carefully, and thank a Fire Fighter for all they do. Hopefully the testing and painting will be the only reason you ever see them in your neighborhood.
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