Maintenance aids fire hydrant flow

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, March 31, 2011

In Brookhaven, fire safety starts at the hydrants.

Brookhaven Fire Department firefighters have been opening thesmall cast-iron devices to ensure they do not hinder their abilityto protect citizens in a time of emergency.

“If the water mains have any of that debris or gravel in there,it can ruin our pumps,” said BFD Chief Tony Weeks.

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BFD firefighters have been working in the past several weeks toclear the water lines of any rocks, gravel or sentiment that mayhave been collected from fall to spring.

“Take the caps off, open the hydrant and let it flow,” saidWeeks.

With about 665 hydrants to flush at roughly 15 minutes apiece,city streets will receive a good rinsing.

BFD has been tending to the hydrants on Mondays, Tuesdays,Wednesdays and Thursdays. The fire department is expected to haveits spring cleaning finished by April.

“A lot of the times when we open a fire hydrant the water isreal rusty (from the hydrant),” said Weeks. “That rust does nothelp either if it gets in your pump.”

Some residents may have noticed their water contains slightdiscoloration in areas firefighters are flushing the system. WaterDepartment Director Lanny Dickey said that the dingy-looking coloris caused from the material the hydrants are made from.

“It’s something we can’t help, but we have to clean the hydrantsout,” said Weeks.

Dickey said that the odd-colored water is no cause for alarm andit will eventually clear up.

“We pull 15 water samples each month all over the town,” saidDickey. “If any of those water samples are bad, I assure you thepublic will know.”

Weeks said he recalled a time in 1986 when some debris disableda truck while firefighters were responding to a fire.

“You can’t get any water flow that way,” said Weeks.

The fire department flushes the hydrants twice a year. Theyclean the systems once in the fall and once in the spring.

“That way we can keep them clear,” said Weeks.