Open Hydrants Cool Neighborhood Kids And Firefighter Response Time

May 17, 2018

Someone opened several fire hydrants around Millvale on Monday and the fire department doesn't want it happening again.

The Cincinnati Fire Department believes whoever did it was trying to help neighborhood kids cool off. According to the National Weather Service, Cincinnati reached 90 degrees May 14. Normally, the high for May is a lot cooler, around 73 degrees.

Assistant Fire Chief Tom Lakamp says it happens every year as people try to beat the heat. "I understand why they think this is a good idea. It's just not."

Lakamp says open hydrants can slow response to an actual fire. If a hydrant is gushing and firefighters need to use it, they must turn it off before connecting hoses.

He says the hydrants can be damaged by someone who doesn't know what they're doing. "That sometimes happens, where the hydrant will get stripped, and if they can't shut it down, they can't use it."

Lakamp says the water pressure from an open hydrant can damage a street or nearby property, including flooding basements or garden-level apartments.

He adds that open hydrants also draw resources away from the department's regular duties.

"We are going through the process of putting a tamper-proof top on the hydrant that requires a different kind of wrench to turn them on," he explains. "We normally do that if we have a chronic fire hydrant that gets turned on multiple times during the summer season, we'll have that top nut changed out. That requires some additional education for the fire company to be sure they're using the correct wrench when they come to that hydrant."

Most Cincinnati Recreation Department pools, including the Millvale public pool, aren't scheduled to open until June 4.