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  1. #1
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    Default Reliability of Private Fire Hydrants

    I am interested in the performance of fire hydrants. In particular, I need to know how reliable PRIVATE fire hydrants have been. Does your department use private fire hydrants, if they are there, or do you regard them as unreliable and automatically not use them? If you regard them as unreliable, why? Is it a lack of maintenance?

    If the property owner were to comply with the requirements of NFPA 25, would you use them? NFPA 25 requires periodic inspection, testing, and maintenance of fire hydrants and private fire mains.

    I am interested in knowing if anyone has experienced private hydrants which were not operational at the time of a fire or at the time of an inspection. How many? What was the impact on fire suppression efforts (did the building go to the ground or were you able to get water from another source?)

    Anecdotal information would be valuable. How many hydrants were inoperable? Were there any public hydrants available? Did you have to relay from a distant operational hydrant requiring additional apparatus and manpower? What was the outcome of the fire (heavy damage where there would have been minor damage, or did the structure burn to the ground)?

    Jim Feld
    Fairfield, CA
    (707) 425-6804


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    Can you define your terms a bit? All of our 16 hydrants are owned by a private water company, but are accessable to the public roads.

    BTW, one of them has been down for 18 months. Seems they saw the hole in the bottom of the dry hydrant, so they cemented it in during installation, so the water would not drain out.

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    Forum Member ffexpCP's Avatar
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    Last year we had a hazmat in the parking lot of the race track in my city. (Buckets of liquid sitting on bags of fertilizer, stuff, the heat in the trailer caused the liquid to expand and leak out and it mixed with the bags). The closest hydrant was a private one owned by the track. It did work, but was a pain to use. The hydrant was too close to a building so we couldnít get a full turn of the wrench without hitting the wall. All the hydrants on that property are metered. I donít know if that make a difference with gpm or not.

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    MembersZone Subscriber ullrichk's Avatar
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    Most recently (and thankfully not a fire) my department did a flow test at a WalMart Supercenter for a proposed expansion. Two of their hydrants were found inoperable. They had the problem corrected the next day. Had there been a fire, we would have had to lay 1500 feet or so to make the sprinkler connection, shutting down a major U.S. highway to get a "public" hydrant.

    We have been told explicitly (by the water department) NOT to hook to private hydrants under any circumstance. Our department's policy is that if we need it, we're going to hook up. If the bulding burns down, it's going to fall back on the property owner anyway. That does NOT mean we're not going to try our best to put a stop on the fire using whatever means available - including 1000+ ft lays.

    We have had more hydrant problems from our own water department than from private concerns.
    ullrichk
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    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    Can you define your terms a bit? All of our 16 hydrants are owned by a private water company, but are accessable to the public roads.
    Sleuth, he is talking about private hydrants, as in on private property and not part of the main public hydrant system.


    We have a few properties that have them and we ususally do not count on them and plan on tagging one off the street. We talked not to long ago about getting out when the weather turns nicer and testing them to see if they work and/or what kind of flows we can get out of them. Don't believe we've had any fires where we needed the hydrants....... Knock on wood..........
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
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    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    Forum Member firenresq77's Avatar
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    Default OOPS

    I guess I should pay attention whether or not I'm logged in before I post........

    Weruj's post was actually mine. Oh well......

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    MembersZone Subscriber PFD109NFD107's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Weruj1
    Knock on wood..........
    You said it....

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    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    hey look.............it's me ...............no it's '77..........no it's me ..............not it's .......
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    Exclamation

    Not too!!


    We do not operate from a private hydrant. We will lay it out from a city hydrant and set up a relay if needed.


    You can not depend on a private hydrant. I have been told hundreds of times by property owners and managers who have private hydrants on their property that "Yes there are good - open it up and see". Well, we did on several times, only to find that the static pressure was nil and once we opened a handline the resduial pressure dropped so severly that we thought the pumps was going to cavitate.


    Most of these are on a meter from the regular water mains and then on a small line, usually a 4 inch pipe, which is so gummed up with crustation.


    Good advice is, If your City or County doesn't maintain or supply them, LEAVE THEM ALONE!!


    You should know your district so well that you will know where these private hydrants are and not used them.


    Let the property owners use them to water the grass.




    Stay Safe & Well out there....

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    Thanks for your replies. I am working on the adoption of NFPA 25 in California and there is a contingent of people who do not believe that private hydrants should be inspected, tested, or maintained. Two reasons are given: (1) it is too expensive and (2) the discharge is an environmental hazard (chlorine).

    I am seeking information as to whether or not private hydrants are used and whether or not they have been reliable. If not reliable, is it because they were not inspected, tested, or maintained?

    I need actual instances of where private hydrants have failed and why.

    Sleuth: Private hydrants are owned by the property owner and not by a public water utility or private water utility. Sorry for not making this clear.

    ffexpCP: A water meter can affect the flow rate. It depends on the size of the meter and the flow rate desired. Some meters have a strainer installed before the meter. The strainer must be cleaned periodically or it can become occluded.


    ullrichk: Thank you. This is exactly what I need. What was the problem with the 2 hydrants that were inoperable? Was it a closed valve? Also, did the water department say why you were not to use private hydrants?

    Weruj1: Why do you not use private hydrants? If the hydrants were inspected, tested, and maintained (at the property ownerís expense), would you use them? There are fire departments that, as a matter of policy, will not use private hydrants because they are not maintained and therefore considered to be unreliable.

    CaptOld Timer: If the static pressure at the private hydrant was nil, what was the static pressure at the public hydrants? I donít blame you for not using a hydrant that is supplied by a 4" main, particularly if the pipe length is several hundred feet and itís an old cast iron main. However, IF the supply was adequate and the hydrants were properly maintained, would you use them? My experience has been that a public utility will not maintain hydrants on private property.

    Thanks again.

    Jim Feld
    Fairfield, CA
    (707) 425-6804

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    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    As I am trying to remember I think the private hydrants had less than 20 PSI for the static. The hydrants on the street maintained by the city run normally around 60 psi for static or better.

    We just do not use a private hydrant at all. The city does not maintain these.

  12. #12
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    [QUOTE]Originally posted by CaptOldTimer
    [B]As I am trying to remember I think the private hydrants had less than 20 PSI for the static. The hydrants on the street maintained by the city run normally around 60 psi for static or better.

    There is something wrong where the public mains/hydrants have a static pressure of 60 psi and the private mains are at 20 psi. They should be the same (or nearly so). Since this is the case, I don't blame you for not using the private hydrant. However, someone should investigate the reason for the 20 psi.

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    In our area, private hydrants are purchased and installed by the property owner and maintained by the fire department and water department. The property owner pays an annual fee to the water department and the fire department checks them just like any other hydrant. The key is to have all appropriate agreements in place so that the property owner, water department and fire department know their responsibilities. I agree with those who are reluctant to hook up to a hydrant that hasn't been maintained for flow tested. We actually get some of our best flows from private hydrants in some of the newer industrial parks.

  14. #14
    MembersZone Subscriber ullrichk's Avatar
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    Originally posted by FireH2O
    ullrichk: Thank you. This is exactly what I need. What was the problem with the 2 hydrants that were inoperable? Was it a closed valve? Also, did the water department say why you were not to use private hydrants?
    One hydrant at the WalMart was either assembled without gaskets or the gaskets were completely deteriorated (something I've never seen before). The hydrant MIGHT have been useable in a fire situation, but I don't know that I would stake my life on that.

    The second hydrant on the property had the gate valve closed on the hydrant leg.

    Our water department doesn't want us using private hydrants because they don't want to pay to fix them if we break something. Apparently the don't feel we're qualified to open and close hydrants.

    In the best of all possible worlds I would arrange a contract where we would flow test, paint, and lube hydrants for a nominal fee and report damage/maintenance issues to the property owner and their insurance carrier. It's not up to me, though.

    Is chlorine really an environmental problem if it isn't discharged into a waterway? My experience has been that ground contact removes all field-detectable traces of chlorine in very short order. Of course our water is pretty good straight out of the wells and doesn't require aggressive treatment.
    ullrichk
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    Temporarily/No Longer Active Cellblock776's Avatar
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    I live in a trailer park on what was a private road. The supply line is a 2 inch metered line. There are 2 private hydrants on the line which are never tested or maintained by our Department. The landlord has even asked that we use them only as a last result since doing so would run the meter up and he would have to pass on the resulting bill to the renters. It's not really an issue since my Chief doesn't see the point of connecting to the private 2 inch line when there's a hydrant at the entrance to the park before the meter. That hydrant is on a 6 inch line and is inspected twice a year by our VFD. If it's not on our City list and we don't check it twice a year then we don't even touch it on a fire scene.

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    MembersZone Subscriber EFD840's Avatar
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    Our water department doesn't want us using private hydrants because they don't want to pay to fix them if we break something. Apparently the don't feel we're qualified to open and close hydrants.
    Why would the water department have to fix a private hydrant if it failed? If it is on the customer side of the meter, wouldn't it be their problem?


    Ullrichk, for a long time our water department didn't feel like we were qualified to open and close hydrants either. Then again, they ain't that bright themselves. The builders of our town's largest grocery paid to have a main extended and a hydrant installed to protect their investment. They didn't ask us about hydrant placement and wound up with a hydrant 3 feet from a wall with its steamer cap is turned into the structure. Totally useless.

    We don't have any hydrants inside meters, but we do have some on private property in our industrial park but they're located within a few hundred yards of a one million gallon tank. They're the best in our district and we will use them without hesitation.

    On a partially related note, our biggest hydrant issue has become flush hydrants. We've got a split ISO rating and people are calling their insurance companies claiming the lower rating based on the location of a flush hydrant. The insurance company usually denies them the lower rate and they get mad at us because we agree that it isn't a true hydrant.

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    MembersZone Subscriber ullrichk's Avatar
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    We are both departments of the same municipal government. Since we don't have the equipment to dig out a water main, they get to fix it (assuming also that it was our negligence that caused the problem). No private hydrants are metered in our area.
    ullrichk
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    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    FireH2O----


    You are so correct Brother.


    The city mains are always dependable. Private mains that run from the city mains, through a meter and maybe on the largest size pipe is 4 inch, is very seldom ever maintained or checked by the property owner. They are there only for insurance purposes and create a falsehood to the property owner and or tennent. Therefore, this is the chief reason fire department do not use them. They are normally dead end hydrants.

    The ones that I have seen opened and flowed gave very little water and was reliable at all.

  19. #19
    MembersZone Subscriber EFD840's Avatar
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    ullrichk, I understand now. We're also municipal, but cover areas outside our corporate limits and thus deal with a total of three water systems.

    I don't really consider the hydrants in our industrial park 'private' because they tie directly into the public water system. We can flow these any time we want, so long as we don't interfere with operations of the businesses in the park. Because they're so good, these are our hydrants of choice for training classes that will involve flowing a lot of water.

    Apparently, some folks have hydrants that tie into the water system on the customer's side of the meter. I can understand why they're reluctant to trust those.

  20. #20
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    We have no problems with private haydrants. Our fire prevention people are on top of makeing sure the private systems are inspected and tested on a regular basis. In fact, we have a better idea on the status of the priavte hydrants then we do on the publics that are handled by the county water deparment. We get the test reports from the private systems, we have to take the county at there word that the publics have been tested.

    Dave

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