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Local fire hydrants get facelift

NFD hopes color-coded hydrants will save time when fighting fires

Nicholasville Fire Department Chief Mark Case and Deputy Fire Chief Craig Cox have begun painting fire hydrants throughout the city in hopes it will save the department valuable time in the unfortunate case a fire breaks out.

The hydrants will be color-coded by flow in order to give firefighters a good visual when they pull up on scene.

“The real reason behind it being color-coded is if a fire truck comes to a working fire in that area, then they can quickly look at that and know, ‘hey, we got about this amount of flow; as opposed to we don’t know what we got here,’” Cox said.

The color codes are recommended by the National Fire Protection Association, with the hydrant bonnets receiving the corresponding paint color — red for 499 gallons or less, orange represents 500 to 999 gallons, a green-hydrant has a flow of 1,000 to 1,499 gallons. Light blue represents 1,500 or better.

“Of course, the light blue or green is going to be the better one,” Case said. “It depends on where you are, too. In a residential area, an orange or green is fine. In a commercial  or industrial area, a green is better but a blue works, too.”

Case said another reason NFD is painting fire hydrants is to conduct maintenance.

The department is working to take off the current caps and add lubrication, as well as lubricating the stem on certain hydrants to help save additional time when fighting fires.

“It lets people know we are maintaining the system. Plus, it helps us too as far as knowing what kinds of flow we have as well,” Case said.

The department began painting hydrants last week. Case said the department has around 1,500 hydrants to paint and is hopeful to have them all completed by the end of the year.

Case and Cox started the project and will turn it over to others in the department after they complete painting the hydrants along Maple Avenue.

“We are figuring about 10 to 15 hydrants a day is a pretty good estimate of the amount of time by the time you lubricate and paint them,” Case said.

Other cities in Kentucky have taken to painting their hydrants as well, Case said — Lexington and Harrodsburg for example, as well as Danville, who also allows their residents to paint the body of the hydrant as they please as long as the color on the bonnet is not touched.

“We talked about doing an adopt-a-hydrant here to let people kind of take care of them themselves,” Case said. “It would be interesting to see what people come up with.”

The department is also looking at the hydrants to make sure they are compliant and there is 36 inches of clearance around them.

If not, Case said they will address the situation and make sure the hydrant is up to standards.

“Even though this is new to us (painting the hydrant), testing them for pressure and flow is not. We have done that for many years,” Cox said.