Fire hydrants

Fire hydrants

A fire hydrant is a piece of equipment that provides emergency access to mains water for firefighting by supplying or refilling the tank in a fire engine. There are more than 40,000 dedicated fire hydrants in Devon and Somerset. They are owned, installed, and maintained by one of the three water companies operating within our two counties.

If you have a question about a hydrant or would like to report a problem please get in touch.

Fire hydrant identification

You may see hydrant marker plates attached to a wall, fence, or a short concrete post. They are rectangular yellow signs with a large black ‘H’. The numbers above identify the size of the water main and the number(s) below show the distance to the hydrant.

Usually, a marker plate will be installed in line with the hydrant to show its location but the plate may also include an arrow to show the direction to the hydrant. The hydrant is below ground and is connected to the water main. The cover to the fire hydrant will normally be cast with the letters ‘FH’ and might be painted yellow.
All hydrants are also shown on the digital maps available in fire engines so that the nearest one can be identified while firefighters are on their way to an incident. This means that even if a marker plate is missing, broken, or covered, our crews will still be able to find the fire hydrant in most cases, and once reported they will be repaired in due course.

Above ground inspection

We check the hydrant frame and cover, and the surrounding surface for damage. We check the hydrant marker post and/or plate to see if the information shown is correct and is clearly visible. Any overgrowth is cut back and apparatus painted where appropriate.

Data recording

We collect information about the fire hydrant, its location, inspections, and any defects/repairs. Details are checked on each inspection and amended if required.

Below ground inspection

This involves checking the hydrant chamber and the hydrant itself. We check for leakage and that the chamber is cleared of silt or debris.

Wet pressure test

We open the hydrant valve to check its operation and for any leakage not evident when the hydrant was closed. A small amount of water is released to check delivery, minimising the amount of water run to waste and potential water supply issues. We do not flow or pressure test fire hydrants, and any specific request for this will need to be made to the water company for the area.

Private fire hydrants

Private fire hydrants are located on private water mains that are not the responsibility of the local water company or the fire and rescue service.

These are generally on large sites such as hospitals, military establishments, retail parks, holiday parks, large warehouses, and industrial estates, but may also be installed to provide cover for specific risk properties. Private hydrants are the responsibility of the owners/occupiers on whose land they are installed and will not be maintained by either the water company or by us.

Private hydrants should be installed, inspected, and tested in accordance with the relevant British Standards, and maintained to be in good working order by the responsible person(s). They should be compatible with fire and rescue service equipment.

Known private fire hydrants will be recorded in our database, and may be included as a source of water for firefighting in our risk information plans. Inspection of private fire hydrants may be undertaken by agreement, for the maintenance of our records and/or to support the inspection and maintenance obligations of the responsible person(s).

Please contact us if you would like assistance, or to check whether or not private fire hydrants for which you are responsible are included in our records.

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