Every summer, crews from the Pittsburg Fire Department can be seen around town checking hydrants as water flows. The process, known as flushing the hydrants, serves a number of purposes, including cleaning, servicing, assessing and more.
Every summer, crews from the Pittsburg Fire Department can be seen around town checking hydrants as water flows.
The process, known as flushing the hydrants, serves a number of purposes, including cleaning, servicing, assessing and more.
"We test them every year in the summer time," said Jeff Kavanagh, battalion chief for the Pittsburg Fire Department. "Typically it will take us from early summer to early fall."
"There are several reasons we do it," he said.
One major reason is to flush the mains of any sediment, which can begin to build up in the lines.
Each of the city's nearly 1,200 hydrants also receives a thorough inspection, with firefighters looking for any damage as they lubricate the hydrants, check whether there are any surrounding trees or weeds that would hamper their visibility and note the paint condition.
"We look for anything that would be a problem in the event of a fire," Kavanagh said.
The process is part of helping the city to maintain an Insurance Services Office (ISO) fire protection rating of three, which translates to lower homeowner insurance rates than an area with higher numbers.
Firefighters generally are sent from the station most local to the area being flushed.
"It helps stations become familiar with hydrants in their area," Kavanagh said.
Kavanagh said the firefighters have a checklist they follow at each stop, including making sure the tag and hydrant match. They also measure gallons per minute and color-code the hydrants accordingly.
All hydrants should be painted yellow and the top part and caps on the sides will be color-coded red if they flow between 0 and 499 gallons per minute, orange for 500-999, green for 1,000 to 1,499 and blue for those that flow 1,500 gallons per minute or more.
Kavanagh said this enables firefighters to plug into the highest capacity hydrant in the area.
"If we see a red on one end of the block and a green on the other, we'll circle around," he said, adding that they also have color-coded maps in the firetrucks.
Some of the maintenance needed upon checking each hydrant, including replacing broken hydrants or repainting the hydrants, is shared by the City of Pittsburg, but it is the fire crews who make the rounds, beginning with the southeast portion of the city, working their way north across all the area east of Broadway, then crossing Broadway and working from north to south on the west end of the city.
Kavanagh said the water in the area should be fine during the flushing process, but might have a small amount of sediment in it initially after the process.
"If they do see us in the area, they might want to open up their kitchen sink and let it run a couple minutes," he said.
Page 2 of 2 - He added that the department has purchased a new piece of equipment, known as a Hose Monster, that helps reduce erosion in the process of flushing hydrants by routing the water to the gutter and then releasing it through a "T" at the end.
"Our goal is to get that thing out in the road where it will run into the ditch or the gutter line," he said.