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Leaking hydrants could pose fire risks

Several municipalities in Ontario are now colour-coding their fire hydrants to indicate where water flow is so low ...


Several municipalities in Ontario are now colour-coding their fire hydrants to indicate where water flow is so low it might pose a risk for firefighting.
The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs and the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association issued a joint release on August 31, pointing out that aging underground water pipes could leak so badly that in extreme situations their pressure might not be enough to maintain sprinkler systems in highrises, or may not be strong enough for firefighting equipment.
Several municipalities, including Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston and Hamilton, are therefore now colour coding their hydrants, using the U.S. National Fire Protection Association’s standards. The bonnet and nozzle caps are painted blue, green, orange or red, depending on the water flow. The colour red — the most dire situation — stands for a flow of less than 31 litres per second. A hydrant coloured orange produces 31 to 63 litres per second.
Frank Zechner, the executive director of the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association, said that older piping systems leak an average of 20 to 40 per cent of their water. “That results in a significant lowering of their flow,” he said. “We’ve been warning municipalities about the situation, telling them that just because the problem originates underground doesn’t make it any less dangerous.”