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  1. #1
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    Default Fake Hydrant Frustrates West Virginia Firefighters

    DAVIS CREEK, W.Va. -- In an emergency every second counts, but valuable time was wasted Tuesday when firefighters were left high and dry trying to hook up to a hydrant that turned out to be fake.

    Firefighters are still trying to figure out why the hydrant was there. They said some people use them as decoration, but also said it could be used to defraud their insurance company.

    It created a very dangerous situation, though, Tuesday morning in Davis Creek. Fire Chief Jeff Snodgrass said his firefighters spent about 15 minutes hooking up to the hydrant and the had to unhook and switch gears to haul in the water.

    He said the problem is created because not all hydrants look alike -- ones operated by West Virginia American Water are all blue and white. But private hydrants in subdivisions and installed by home owners can be any color of the rainbow.

    "People install these for decoration or for the convenience of their pets," Snodgrass said. "If the fire department is not notified about it, to us -- even our trained eye -- this fire hydrant looks like a real true fire hydrant."

    Now the West Virginia Legislature is efforting a bill that would require all non-working hydrants to be identified by painting the hydrant black or putting a tarp over it if it's not working.

    The fire department is still trying to figure exactly why that fire hydrant was there. And, so far, they don't know how the fire started. No one was home at the time.

    Are you kidding me? This isn't a volly vs full time thing,
    firefighters spent about 15 minutes hooking up to the hydrant
    I know what they should do for drill for the next few meeting nights. Their is no excuse for being thrown off your game that much by one bad hydrant. Scarry, very scarry.


  2. #2
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    I have a fake hydrant in my front yard.

    But it's 10' from my front door, and about 50' from the street, clearly not an operating hydrant. Plus mine is solid red, my local uses yellow & white.
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  3. #3
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    Brings up a good point. How many of your FD's still open the plug before committing to it? We have an SOP that before making the connection the hydrant must be flowed to ensure its operation and the barrel is clear, but for a long time it was rarely carried out. One bad hydrant and bad lay reinforced the policy. Of course this doesn't work out as well with a forward lay, but at least you know somethings F***ed before you start on tank water expecting the supply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    Brings up a good point. How many of your FD's still open the plug before committing to it? We have an SOP that before making the connection the hydrant must be flowed to ensure its operation and the barrel is clear, but for a long time it was rarely carried out. One bad hydrant and bad lay reinforced the policy. Of course this doesn't work out as well with a forward lay, but at least you know somethings F***ed before you start on tank water expecting the supply.
    We always flow a hydrant before laying in. We try to beat it into everyone from the first day they join the department. Do people forget in the heat of the moment? Yes, but rarely. More often than not, the driver will take off see second he sees the hydrant wrapped before the guy even has a chance to get the cap off. Again, heat of the moment, but bad nonetheless.

    The fifteen minutes they are describing probably DID happen if the driver started laying in 5" and then they had to repack the whole bed only to re-lay at another hydrant. That could take 15 minutes...easy.

    Our hydrant wrenches are all attached to the 5" in a bag. In order to get the wrench, you have to pull the 5" out to the ground and open the bag. The next logical step would be to open the hydrant before touching the hose again, but what people do is pull the line to the hydrant since they are going there anyway and while it's in their hand, they end up not putting it down and wrap it in one shot.

    Driver pulls off.

    The solution is to have a wrench NOT in the bag, but on the back of the truck (or even in the cab). Then, you'll have guys jumping out without a wrench I suppose. Well, you can't fix stupid!

  5. #5
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    Know your 1st due.
    This space for rent

  6. #6
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    We almost always reverse out so if we hit a bad hydrant and are flowing water we are stuck and it is the second due engine to make sure he gets us water.. My pt gig has LDH but we rarely forward in. Is it common if you hit a bad hydrant to repack the rig then try again? To me it would make sense to just leave it start with tank water and have the second due take care of it. Because of bad hydrants we usually start (and often finish) the attack with tank water and our second due or the tender gets us water.

  7. #7
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    we had a similiar thing happen once.
    the operation went like this, two engines respond to structure fire, both stop at hydrant, second engine gets out grabs supply hose and wraps around hydrant and first engine takes off to fire. first engine goes to fire dropping supply line the entire way. well when the second engine goes to flush the hydrant he figures out it is a fake, but we now had a few hundred feet of hose out. he radios to first engine about the situation, and then he goes and finds another hydrant, and runs a line to the fire while the first engine is packing thiers up. the homeowner of the fake hydrant claimed it was for her dog and she was heavily ticketed. that was 5 or so years ago and since then we made it an sop to make sure it is a working hydrant before any hose is layed from it to the fire.
    Puttin the wet stuff on the red stuff!

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    Almost had that happen once. A particular house has decorative hydrants out front. Our department knew that, but the second due didn't and stated that they were picking up our line and had the hydrant. I was able to inform them that it was not real and to set up a tanker shuttle.

    I hate to say it, but a bad hydrant would slow us down a little. Fortunately we are used to running tanker shuttles so we should be able to adapt quickly. I would hope we wouldn't spend 15 mins messing with the bad hydrant, but unfortunately that depends on who is on the engine.

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    Shouldn't decorative hydrants be marked in a fashion OTHER than how the local FD does theirs?If your department or water service(whoever services them) paints active hydrants red,silver,purple,or Realtree(tm) Woodland camo,doesn't it follow logic to paint a color that no one would EVER connect with a viable hydrant?
    Memphis has out of service hydrants marked with signs that say so.I am sure that some smart officers check routinely in their districts to make sure they know where the foul balls are.
    Just because my old department has the hydrants marked on maps and GPS units doesn't mean everyone else's does.

  10. #10
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    We inspect and flow hydrants in our first in district twice a year. If a particular hydrant is OOS it gets logged into the MDT and a hydrant sheet is generated. If a fire comes in near an OOS hydrant that hydrant location will start blinking red on the screen indicating OOS. The only person who can change the status of an OOS hydrant is the 1st in company. This is done after a physical inspection and flow test.
    IAFF

  11. #11
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    First off Davis Creek isn't any where near me, but I do want to offer some insight on what was mentioned.

    First off, West Virgina Water is not the best company to deal with. Granted they have placed a lot of lines through my area so my first due is probably 95% on the water system. After they first started putting in the new lines, we would flow them to check the GPM etc. Not long after we were told by WVW that we "were not allowed to flow check the hydrants" due to unnecessary water waste. We were also told that they, WWW, would check the hydrants and send us a copy. Well needless to say I have yet to receive a copy. When they threaten you with paying for the water you use to flow test, it becomes easy to see why small departments in WV don't flow test their hydrants.

    To also touch on what someone said about the second due, it could easily be 15 plus minutes before they arrive. Here again I don't know this department but I'm vaguely familuar with the general area.

    WV is famous for one lane roads that run for miles up a "holler", especially in coal towns.

    Just my .01 from WV.
    Last edited by MasterMerlin; 02-20-2009 at 01:01 PM. Reason: Grammer
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  12. #12
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    We have 2 or 3 decorative hydrants in my town. Hard to confuse them as a real hydrant being that they are not connected to anything. If you put a hydrant wrench on top and turn it, the whole hydrant spins.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    ....Not long after we were told by WVW that we "were not allowed to flow check the hydrants" due to unnecessary water waste.....

    I'd say F...them. They're not inside working off a tank.

    We instill, practically beat into, all new guys to flush each hydrant before hooking to it. It's not unusual for us to have one dead, snapped stem, frozen or full of debris. Two weeks ago my driver opened one that apparently had been leaking at the connection to the main and filled the barrel during a nasty cold snap. Under the cap was a solid block of ice. You have to check them first. If there's something not right, just move on to the next and hope for the best.

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    I'm glad we don't have too many fake hydrants in our district, but I would like to think that our guys would move on after finding out that the hydrant wasn't in operation. About 70% of the time when we use a hydrant we'll be filling a tanker for a shuttle anyway. Although something like this could happen to anyone, hopefully it wouldn't take fifteen minutes to resolve. However, like someone else stated, if they had already pulled 5" off the truck, it could very well take that long (or longer) to regroup depending on the amount of manpower available.

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    Sounds like a training issue. We hit a second alarm on an appartment fire last night. One of the engines tried to lay, what turned out to be a dry hydrant. They continued their attack using booster tank while someone hand jacked line to another hydrant up the street. Why the big delay at the OP's fire? We still must have at least 500 gals. on the rig right? That's plenty to start the attack. That is the point of the booster tank on the engine! What's the deal. I agree that dry plugs are a problem or decorative plugs are a problem, but shouldn't we, as proffesionals, be able to deal with this situation when faced with it? BTW "proffesionals" include anyone with training. Come on guys... lets get it together.

    EDIT*** BTW there was no delay on the attack by the rig that found the dry plug!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Last edited by lafrance4078; 02-20-2009 at 03:40 PM.

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    From the article these guys weren't sure whos plug this was. It didn't look like the ones they were use to, BUT, the water department could have planted some new ones that they may not have been aware of. Having said that, if they knew thier hydrants they wouldn't have make this one. Looks to me they need to get out and check their hydrants more to know where they are.

    I have a active hydrant in front of my house across the street and an not in service one in the flower bed next to the house.
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    Default Aussie perspective

    We always flow our hydrants, both to see if they work and to get rid of any of the built up muck sitting in the line. This is taught to all in recruit school.

    Most of the time the cap comes off of the hole, we have to clean the hole of dirt as ours are in the ground, put the standpipe in the hole, screw it down and then flush the standpipe, hook up the line, wait for the other end to hook up and then flow the line.

    Will get pics if people want to see how it works

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hairyman View Post
    We always flow our hydrants, both to see if they work and to get rid of any of the built up muck sitting in the line. This is taught to all in recruit school.

    Most of the time the cap comes off of the hole, we have to clean the hole of dirt as ours are in the ground, put the standpipe in the hole, screw it down and then flush the standpipe, hook up the line, wait for the other end to hook up and then flow the line.

    Will get pics if people want to see how it works
    I would like to see pics or a vid if you don't mind.

  19. #19
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    Training question:Your rigs hold 500 gallons,right?
    Even at 100 gpm,how long will you have to put water on the fire and how long would you want to wait after your hose runs dry while you are inside as the other guys set up the portapond and shuttle runs?
    Just because my old outfit might not go interior until there is a viable hydrant supplying the engine doesn't mean there aren't other departments that consider using tanks on interior attacks to be a good idea.
    Just having 500 gallons on hand with no more to be had makes even me nervous.I am of the opinion that you can never have enough water to put down a fire until you know that it is down.


    Quote Originally Posted by lafrance4078 View Post
    Sounds like a training issue. We hit a second alarm on an appartment fire last night. One of the engines tried to lay, what turned out to be a dry hydrant. They continued their attack using booster tank while someone hand jacked line to another hydrant up the street. Why the big delay at the OP's fire? We still must have at least 500 gals. on the rig right? That's plenty to start the attack. That is the point of the booster tank on the engine! What's the deal. I agree that dry plugs are a problem or decorative plugs are a problem, but shouldn't we, as proffesionals, be able to deal with this situation when faced with it? BTW "proffesionals" include anyone with training. Come on guys... lets get it together.

    EDIT*** BTW there was no delay on the attack by the rig that found the dry plug!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Last edited by doughesson; 02-21-2009 at 11:51 AM.

  20. #20
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    All I know is this would never happen to paid, union firemen who did not stop for green lights while on emergency runs and made attacks on houses that did not for absolutely certain have people inside while praying to God and voting Republican, who also carried guns on the apparatus and were masked up prior to arrival.
    Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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