As you have driven around your neighborhood, have you, on occasion, seen a firetruck or two near a fire hydrant with so much water being dispersed it seems like it forms a river in the middle of the street? Perhaps, while working around your home, you’ve followed a stream of water back to utility workers playing with a hydrant. They aren’t wasting water, nor are they getting them ready for the local kids to come around and start playing in the area. What they’re doing is flushing the hydrants. And, while it may seem like a waste of water to you, hydrant flushing actually keeps the liquid you drink and clean with safe to use.

The two main reasons to flush a hydrant are to maintain fire protection and to clean out the pipes. When a hydrant is opened to begin the process, fire department and water utility officials remain on-hand to check the flow of water. According to standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a pressure of 20 pounds per square inch (psi) is required to help in putting out fires. So, as they flush the system, they’re able to determine if the pressure is too low.

If it is, what they may see if a flushing of the system helps raise the pressure. Like any water system, rust, minerals, and other build-up can accumulate in the pipes which feed water to the hydrant. If these start to block flow, the build-up can be pushed back into the public water supply and cause potential contamination. By flushing the hydrant the build-up, or most of it, can be removed and the water table maintained.

There’s not much which needs to be done to complete the flushing of a hydrant. Emergency services personnel or utility workers use opening tools from companies like Hurco Technologies to open the hydrant. How long the flush occurs depends on the flow or what is discovered in an examination of the minerals coming out. If the flush moves slowly or not at all, further examination underneath the hydrant is required to determine if there’s a blockage. From that point, the utility company may need to take over and complete a repair process.

Should you want to learn more about this operation it is recommended you speak to local utility office to see a schedule and understand the process.