New Hydrants Help Firefighters Battle Blazes

SPOKANE — Recently the City of Spokane has begun changing the look of its fire hydrants, retrofitting the caps on hydrants to give firefighters quicker access which could make a difference in saving lives and property.

“Every second counts in our business. One of the few businesses we can say time matters,” Deputy Fire Chief Dave Leavenworth said.

In the Spokane Fire Department’s case, it takes just four seconds for firefighters to gain access to city fire hydrants. That’s because last March the Spokane Water Department started replacing the traditional screw off caps, which could take anywhere from 20 to 30 seconds, for the quicker Storz fittings which take one-quarter turn in four seconds.

“The firefighters really appreciate having the Storz couplings on the hydrants,” Deputy Chief Leavenworth said.

Homeowners will appreciate that too when fire crews are hustling to save their property and every moment spent hassling with a hydrant and hose hook-up is a moment lost fighting the flames threatening everything you’ve worked for.

“This is just one way, on every fire scene, that we can speed up the process of getting water to the fire, by making a fast hydrant connection,” Leavenworth said.

Another reason to use the new fittings is because the old hydrants weren’t compatible with the fire trucks from the county or other cities.

Since last year, City Water Supervisor Steve Skog has helped install nearly one hydrant a day in the city’s high use areas including areas near hospitals, schools and shopping centers. The next step is to begin upgrading hydrants in residential neighborhoods.

The cost for the hydrant upgrade is $34,000 and is coming from the Water Department budget. All new hydrants will have the Storz caps and older hydrants are being retrofitted at a cost of $120 per hydrant.

The city has more than 7,000 hydrants so it’s going to be a while before they all get replaced.