Care of Hydrants
One of the most important links in the chain of fire-fighting operations is the fire hydrant. Upon its condition largely depends the success or failure of the battle against the flames. The delay caused by the failure of a hydrant to properly function— through being frozen, having been tampered with by ignorant persons, not having been properly maintained, or through any other cause—may mean the loss of a building by the fire department.
The tendency is more and more to restrict the use of the fire hydrant to the fire department. So many cases have occurred where the ignorant handling of the hydrant by contractors’ men, street flushers and others not skilled in its use or careless and indifferent to any damage they may do, has caused water works and fire departments to insist that no one but members of one of these departments shall open the hydrant. An alternative has been to install on the hydrant special openings for the use of other than water and fire department men. This plan has proved successful in several cities, thus avoiding damage to the regular openings through the use of Stilson wrenches, the turning in the wrong direction and other causes.
Where contractors and others are allowed to use the hydrant for other than fire purposes, in many cities the rule is enforced that the hydrant must be opened by an employee of the water department and used only through permit and under the strictest supervision. Where no such regulations are in force there is pretty sure to be trouble ahead for both the fire and water departments through the condition in which the hydrants are very apt to he left by others using them.