DUNCAN, OK (KSWO) -If you happen to see water flowing from a fire hydrant in Duncan, there's no need to be alarmed. The fire department says it's all part of the plan.
Firefighters are conducting their annual fire hydrant flow testing. Over the next six weeks, they will test every hydrant in the city to make sure they all work properly. They'll be looking for hydrants that have low water pressure, don't connect well with water lines or may be cluttered with debris.
The process to check a hydrant is relatively quick, taking five to 10 minutes for each hydrant. The fire department says the tests are necessary for the safety of the city's fire fighters and residents.
On the surface, it may look like good water going to waste, but Assistant Duncan Fire Chief Rob Loafman says this pea-toe reading is actually the first step in the test.
"The first thing we look at is water pressure. Is it going to meet our needs to sustain a fire fighting operation? That's critical," Assistant Fire Chief Loafman said.
Loafman says the hydrants are color coded to let them know exactly how much water flows out of each one. Just like a traffic light, the most water comes out of a green hydrant at 1,000 gallons per minute, an average amount of water comes out of the yellow hydrants at 500 gallons per minute and the red hydrants give the least amount of water at 500 gallons or less.
Aside from water flow, the fire department also looks for other issues.
"Mechanical issues…you may have striped caps or threads where you cannot open the hydrant or possible a stem itself that allows water to flow. You may just have a hydrant that you cannot open, or one man on a wrench may not open," he explained.
Loafman says when that happens, the Public Works Department is called in to make a fix. He says this is the second year they've been able to test the hydrants after a three-year drought put the process on hold. He says foregoing the tests could mean the difference between life and death.
"You may have a situation where there's been some sort of event. A car may have hit a hydrant and rendered it useless and we wouldn't know that without this annual testing," Loafman explained. "Our job of knowing that we have a sufficient water supply is critical to adequate firefighting. If you don't have water it's tough to do the job right."
Loafman says the department is about a third of the way through testing, and have only had to fix a few that were decades old and in need of new valves. He says when it's all said and done, the department will have tested about 1,300 hydrants.
Loafman says he hopes to have the testing done by the end of June. Then they'll start repainting the hydrants to help them stand out when firefighters need to use them.