Jacksonville Fire Department will inspect and refurbish every city fire hydrant beginning this week.
The new annual hydrant maintenance program will last about three months.
“There are approximately 600 fire hydrants in the city, and starting this week we are going to be greasing the stems, taking the caps off and greasing the treads, weed-eating around the hydrants, checking to see if they work and painting the ones that need it,” said Fire Chief Paul White. “We are also going to be painting the bonnets with a reflective, fluorescent paint which will make the fire hydrants a lot easier to see at night.”
White said the city’s hydrants received periodic upkeep in the past, but that this is the first time Jacksonville has established an annual maintenance plan.
White said the program will also allow his department to identify which of the city’s existing hydrants are no longer operational. When a broken hydrant is located, the firefighters will place a white plastic lid over the steam cap, allowing them to easily identify hydrants which are not in working order.
“In the past, firemen have had to just remember which hydrants are out-of-service. In the future when we are pulling up on a fire we won’t waste time laying line from a dead hydrant; we will be able to quickly identify whether we can use it or not,” he said.
According to the White, the benefits of the maintenance program are mostly practical for his crews, but there is also a potential insurance benefit for the city. Hydrant maintenance is one of the things fire departments are graded on by the Insurance Services Office when they are calculating a city’s Public Protection Classification.
While White said the new program is unlikely to be enough to bump Jacksonville’s PPC rating down to the next level, he said little improvements like this will help the city score higher with ISO in the future.