1. #1
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    Default Hitting the Hydrant - Procedures and Purging

    Hi all,
    I'm a battalion chief for a fairly rural Volunteer company that covers approx 50 square miles. About 5% (Or less) of our district is hydranted. the majority of our fires, obviously, happen in our non-hydranted areas, so we rely on either drafting or tanker shuttles for water supply.

    My question comes from two different procedures we use for our hydrants.

    When we are simply filling up one of our engines or tankers (non emergency, such as after drill, or topping off after a call) we'll get the 2.5" of the hydrant, then open and purge it (to remove any debris). once the water runs clear, we close the gate, hook up our 2'." line to the truck, and proceed to fill the tank.

    However, when we have the rare occurrence of a fire in they hydrant area, we normally connect our LDH directly to the steamer on the hydrant, gate the 2.5", and open the hydrant.

    Is anyone out there purging the hydrant before flowing water to the apparatus during an actual call? and if so, how do you do it?

    Thanks!

    2504
    Last edited by ovfc2504; 01-11-2014 at 01:47 PM. Reason: puncuation

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    One thing we learned many years ago from our friends in the Philadelphia Fire Department is to always flush (or purge) every hydrant. They have considerably greater problems with "debris" in their hydrants than we do, but it's good practice nonetheless. So we do it as a matter of practice. Every hydrant, every time. It doesn't take long. Another thing, it helps identify a non-working hydrant before you go to the trouble of making the hookup.

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    To be completely honest I don't think my department even has a policy on flushing the municipal hydrants within the hydrant district. I know myself personally, after I'm done dressing the hydrant and open it I'll flush it for a good 15 seconds to make sure any crap that got stuffed in there or found its way into the mains is tossed before I hook it to the 4" and get water to the rig.

    I've seen other drivers not even bother flushing, and we've yet to have a problem from not flushing.
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    Intake does have a screen? Stop the big chunks

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    I volunteer into a department similar to yours, but I work in a very urban/suburban district. Our policies are the same in both departments - open the main steamer connection prior to using the hydrant and flush it until clear. The only exception is when re-filling after a simple car fire or something similar, then we'll just open and flush on the 2.5" threaded connection.

    This reminds me of a story: My in-laws were transferred from a busy area in Northern Virginia to a rural, montainous county in another state several years ago. We went out to see them and while heading into the local city, a large thermal column could be see on the horizon. Being a "curious onlooker," I aimed the car toward the scene. As we were approaching the scene, the 1st engine was approaching, so I pulled over to allow them to go by. Coincidentally, they stopped at the hydrant right in front of the car. I hopped out and asked if they had another engine coming to the hydrant, and if not, I told them I could make their connection. The FF eagerly told me to hook them directly to the hydrant and they'd let me know when to charge it. He hopped back on the engine and the 4" played off the rear as they drove off.

    I take the hydrant bag, get the hydrant wrench out of it, open the streamer connection, and begin to flush the hydrant. It looks like the town's water system is filled with chocolate milk. So after nearly 30 seconds of flushing the hydrant, it still looks like nasty muddy water. Unbeknownst to me, a woman has been sitting on her front porch about 25' away watching this entire thing unfold. She says to me, "if yer waitin' to see that water get clean, ain't gonna happen. My tap water looks just like that." Disgusted, I hooked up the hydrant and attempted to send the water. (The hydrant didn't have enough pressure to push the water up the hill to the pumper, but that's a whole other thread....).
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    Thanks for the responses - it seems to be a pretty good consensus to flush no matter what - which we try to do, but isn't always the case.

    And Boxalarm, we've got a couple hydrants right near our water towers that are like that with pressure - we can technically draft off of them, and can get more pressure that way.

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    Current FD has no hydrants other than dry hydrants for drafting. Those get flushed a couple times per year. I'm not sure if we have a policy on flushing them when needed for a fire though. I suppose it all depends on how badly water is needed and whether there's trucks waiting to be filled...

    Old FD didn't have a policy that I can recall for flushing hydrants. About 25-30% of the coverage area was hydranted at the time, so we would hit a hydrant fairly often. I don't recall ever flushing first. We had a fire one time where water was getting shuttled several miles from the nearest hydrant. First re-filled tank out of our tanker looked like tea and the next 2-3 got progressively clearer, but still pretty brown. The last load didn't get dumped at the scene, but it still had a brown tinge to it when I dumped it back at the station. I have a feeling there were a few ticked off housewives in the development where the hydrant was for the next couple of days!

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    Quote Originally Posted by fire49 View Post
    Intake does have a screen? Stop the big chunks
    It's not just about keeping "chunks" out of pumps. It's about being sure you'll have a steady uninterrupted water supply.

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    Flushing will clear out any debris and let you know the hydrant actually works. Way better than reaching in blindly to clear barrell by hand. In some places there could be just about anything in there. Also if hydrant valve has been opened and no water comes out, do not reach into barrell. If water suddenly does come it can have a lot of pressure behind it. Any object, such as ice, becomes a real danger to a hand inside the barrell.

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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    It's not just about keeping "chunks" out of pumps. It's about being sure you'll have a steady uninterrupted water supply.
    But one minute of flow will not tell you that, it just says there is some water in the system

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    Joined in 1982. Have never flushed a hydrant. Have never had a flow/debris problem. Guess it depends on your area.
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Joined in 1982. Have never flushed a hydrant. Have never had a flow/debris problem. Guess it depends on your area.
    I wouldn't expect a problem from your locals, Bones. But some of your summer population?

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    They tend to not bother with things like fire hydrants. They come, they drink, they pee on the lawn, they pass out, they are taken home.

    To be honest....the majority are great people and cause very few problems. The bad apples that cause the problems....usually late at night after the bars close.
    "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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    Our policy is to flush the hydrant before connecting the line. This is done pretty much everytime "in anger". While not the exact purpose we've found frozen hydrants before too much time was spent connecting the gate valves and line.

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    If nothing else a quick flush verifies the hydrant is operational before the time is taken to connect the ldh and gate valves. We flush before using them. Used be surprised what i've seen come out of hydrants. At one job many years ago a pump operator knew he had an obstruction somewhere cuz the 5" at the pump was rock hard but couldnt supply crap. He ended up having beer cans up against the inlet screen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    Our policy is to flush the hydrant before connecting the line. This is done pretty much everytime "in anger".
    I might be the anomaly here, but twice in my career, I've attempted to flush the hydrant to find out that the stem was broken and would not open. Both of these instances were on fatal fires to boot. Not a complication you need on a call like that.
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    We also inspect and test all hydrants in the spring and fall each year. That's in addition to engines testing hydrants on every run.

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    Agreed, Cap. We run the hydrant on many runs as well, just to flush/inspect/test them.
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