Fire department resumes regular fire hydrant testing

Fire department resumes regular fire hydrant testing

LAWTON, Okla._Now that the drought is over, the Lawton Fire Department will be able to resume its regular testing of the more than 4,000 fire hydrants across the city.

To conserve water, the department cut back on the tests four or five years ago, which are normally done on each hydrant yearly. During that time, they've given priority to those in commercial areas and more populated zones. That meant some hydrants went more than a year without testing, meaning some could be running at low water pressure, or worse, not run at all.

Monday, there was a suspicious fire in an alley that destroyed a man's camper. The nearby hydrant the fire department first tried to hook up to had nothing come out. It's a brand new hydrant, but for some reason the water valve was off, which kept water from flowing. Luckily, another hydrant was just a block away.

It was an easy fix for the hydrant, but now that the department can start regularly testing, it'll be a problem they hopefully won't run into again.

When the Lawton Fire Department gets a call for a fire, the last thing they need to worry about is hooking up to hydrant with no flowing water. However, Fire Chief Dewayne Burk says that's sometimes the case.

"It doesn't happen very often, but it does happen on occasion and you have to adjust. You make an adjustment, get to the hydrant and proceed," explained Chief Burk.

The drought forced the department to cut back on their hydrant testing in the city.

"It's difficult to tell the public 'hey, you can't wash your car, don't water your yards' and do all of that. Then we are out sending water down the street," said Chief Burk.

Now that the rain has swept through and eliminated the drought and water restrictions, the department will hit the streets and find any hydrants that may be a problem.

"[The tool] can tell you what the velocity is and we can determine how many gallons per minute is coming out of that hydrant," said Chief Burk.

The fire department tests for three things: test the velocity out of the hydrant, the pressure built up when no water is running out and the pressure built up when another hydrant is on.

"It definitely allows us to catch a problem sooner than later. We would rather catch it while we are testing them as opposed to showing up on a fire and finding out the hydrant is not operable," said Chief Burk.

They normally do these tests in the early spring, we were still in a drought then, so they'll be doing the tests this fall. If any have a problem, they report it to the water department to be fixed.