You may have had a visit from a fire crew at your place of business or watched firefighters paint the hydrant in front of your home. And in the future, you may catch a glimpse of hose being tested in one of the large parking lots around town.
This activity is part of an annual routine. Twice each year firefighters test every fire hydrant in the city, and there are more than 600 of them. Hydrants are opened all the way to flush old rusty water and to ensure all the hydrant components work properly. Each hydrant base should be vivid yellow and the bonnet, or top, is color-coded according to the tested fire flow, which is the amount of water that flows through the hydrant. We did not paint them green for St. Patrick’s day or blue for Easter as we told some of your children when they followed us through the neighborhood.
While I’m on the subject of fire hydrants, we have found a few homeowners have some nice plantings surrounding the hydrant in front of their home. Those small one-gallon, “knockout,” roses or bottlebrushes will soon be large enough to completely hide the hydrant. This will be an issue when we come searching in the dark for our water supply to put out a fire.
Firefighters are not arborists and the plantings will not look good if you leave it to us to cut them. Before it gets too hot, please reconsider your choice of plantings and move the plants that will overgrow the hydrant.
Richmond Hill Fire Department personnel will also visit each commercial business, church, school and factory to conduct a pre-fire plan. This plan will give us a general idea of the layout of the structure, who to call after hours and who supplies your electric and gas service, among other things. This visit is not an annual fire inspection — they are conducted by specially trained and licensed firefighters.
Finally, we will test all of our hose, ladders and attachments to ensure they meet the specifications of the National Fire Protection Association. Hose testing involves putting all the hose on the ground and running water through them at high pressure to ensure they will not leak or break at the couplings.
Why is this important? ISO is coming! The Insurance Services Organization will inspect a fire department every three to five years and issue a rating, one being the best or highest and nine being the lowest.
Richmond Hill is overdue and will soon be inspected. ISO will be looking at our inspections, testing, training and planning. If we do well, we can keep or improve our rating, which is tough. As an example, the Savannah Fire Department with full, professional fire crews is an ISO-rated class two. Richmond Hill is currently a class four. This is important to homeowners and renters because the better the rating, the better the rates on your fire insurance.