Black Hydrants Have Texas Firefighters Seeing Red

April 15, 2008
If a hydrant doesn't have an adequate flow, it has to be painted black or covered with a black sack.


Some firefighters are seeing red over some Guadalupe County fire hydrants, which if area officials have their way, won't be red.

More than half of the 450 fire hydrants controlled by the Green Valley Special Utility District have been painted black in compliance with a state House bill.

House Bill 1717 states than if a fire hydrant doesn't provide an adequate flow of water -- at least 250 gallons per minute -- it must be painted black or covered with a similar-colored sack.

"We're painting them black and we're painting them black to come in compliance with the law," said Pat Allen, general manager of the utility.

Allen said all of the hydrants will eventually be painted black to avoid any liability problems, which is upsetting to emergency personnel.

"If you paint them all black, they they all look like they're bad," Emergency Management Coordinator Dan Kinsey said. "So you can't determine which is a good hydrant and which is a bad hydrant.

"If you have to waste time looking for a hydrant... you hook up to a black hydrant that is bad, now you've got to go find a black hydrant that's good."

Allen said because of Green Valley's rural placement, they can't guarantee adequate flow at all times, and that a black hydrant does not always mean no water.

"It means that we'll provide as much water as we possibly can to them," Allen said. "There's no guarantee at what level, but we'll get them all that we can."

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