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Fire Hydrant Lingo (#1)

find as I travel around the countryside that the language used to discuss issues about fire hydrants changes considerably from area to area. When folks are discussing hydrants you will hear talk about a five or a five and one half foot hydrant. This will vary from possibly eight foot (burrrr its cold) to three foot (toasty warm) hydrant descriptions. I well remember when I was in sales, an encounter with a well-meaning water superintendent who wished to order a seven and one half foot hydrant to replace an existing unit in his system on Main Street. Knowing something was awry; I first visited his site and inquired as to how he determined the measurement of his hydrant. Well, thats easy! He said. And he proceeded to TEACH me that you remove the steamer cap and put a tape down the inside of the barrel and measure to the center of the steamer nozzle! Hmmm? I should have sent him a seven and a half foot hydrant but it would most likely have to have been specially built and still lying in his stock yard with him convinced I was an idiot! So, what is really meant when you speak of a five foot hydrant? You are referring to the depth of bury, or the depth of trench (same thing, different lingo) where the hydrant is to be installed. Two to three inches below the joint of the upper and lower sections of the hydrant (most makes and models) you will find a ground line indication of some sort. The determination for the depth of bury is the distance from this mark to the bottom of the inlet piping.

by Dan Tousley, Circuit Rider III

This is literally your depth of trench(DOT/DOB). This is a very important measurement for several reasons. The most important of which is that for the breakaway provision of the hydrant to work properly, it has to be installed at very close to the proper depth. Too high or too low will result in increased damage to the hydrant and to the vehicle (or horse and buggy, snowmobile, etc) impacting the hydrant. Honestly, I have seen them installed where the nozzles were a little below ground level to where you needed a short ladder to operate the hydrant! Probably that seven and a half foot baby my buddy wanted! Another reason justifying an exact measurement is a financial one. Extensions are available from O.E.M. or after market suppliers BUT, get your wallet out, they can easily cost up to half the cost of a new hydrant. They are available in six inch increments but they do not come cheap. A five and a half foot hydrant costs more than a five foot one, but nothing like the cost of a five foot hydrant with a 6 or 12 extension added! Occasionally, it cant be helped. Extensions have to be used. But if it can be avoided by ordering properly it will be well advised to do so. Most commonly, in our New York State climate, a five and one half foot bury hydrant is used. Maybe you can get away with a five foot bury. Those warm folks in Florida most likely stock three foot bury hydrants. The hydrant drawing used with this article is compliments of Kennedy Valve Mfg. It is their Model K81 D, but most all of the manufacturers of todays fire hydrants are similar and use the same lingo when referring to specifications. Stay tuned, perhaps more lingo next time!

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