D.C. Officials: Fire Hydrants Not Way to Beat the Heat
WI Web Staff | 6/21/2013, 2:45 p.m.
Summertime has arrived, but as temperatures rise, D.C. officials warn against using a dangerous — and illegal — way to beat the heat.
Opening fire hydrants on a hot day is almost an urban rite of summer, but one that causes more harm than good, said D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe.
"Opening a hydrant can lower the water pressure and seriously affect our ability to fight fires," Ellerbe said. "Also, the force of pressurized water coming out of a hydrant can knock a person down and lead to injury."
Aside from the obvious traffic hazard of flooded streets, tampering with hydrants can also damage a neighborhood's water system.
"Only official personnel with specialized tools should operate" hydrants, said George S. Hawkins, general manager of the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority. "Opening a hydrant without the right tools can damage the hydrant, the nozzle and the pipes in the water distribution system."
Though some jurisdictions allow hydrants to be opened with authorized spray caps, the District does not, and violators could be fined $100. Instead, residents are advised to stay in shade or air conditioning and to drink plenty of water.
For those that don't live in air-conditioned buildings, the city welcomes them to come to its swimming pools, cooling centers, recreation facilities, senior centers and other air-conditioned buildings. Information and locations can be found at dc.gov or by calling 311.