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The importance of fire hydrants in our communities

Published:Tuesday | October 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM

They are often overlooked and sometimes abused; their value and purpose are oftentimes misconstrued by individuals who utilise them in various ways, contrary to their real functions. We pass by them on our daily routine and either ignore them or utilise them for a convenient resting place for garbage, foot rest or as a 'lean on me friend'.

Our fire hydrants, those red metal pipes that stand elegantly in our towns and communities are placed in strategic locations exclusively to aid the Jamaica Fire Brigade in firefighting. Fire hydrants serve as an essential part of the firefighting process, as they allow firefighters to access a steady flow of water supply during an operation.

The Jamaica Fire Brigade is on a drive to educate the general public on the essential role that fire hydrants play in firefighting and the importance of protecting these valuable pieces of equipment. If there were no fire hydrants in the communities, it would take a longer time for firefighters to accomplish their task of 'saving lives and protecting property'. The time it takes to leave your community to access water from an available hydrant could mean the difference between life and death and the loss or salvage of millions of dollars worth of properties. The fate will, in fact, be similar if the hydrants that are present have been defaced, abused and misused. The maintenance of fire hydrants is the responsibility of the Jamaica Fire Brigade. However, the care of these very essential recourses is everybody's responsibility.

Here are some tips on how to protect our hydrants:

Do not block a fire hydrant by parking vehicles next to it. Vehicles should be parked no closer than 15 feet away from a hydrant from any direction.

Do not dispose of any form of debris in the valve box or barrel of the hydrant.

Do not attempt to open or activate hydrants with any home-made device, as this may damage the mechanism used to operate the hydrant.

Ensure that all the hydrants in need of repairs (leaking, broken, malfunctioning) are reported to the nearest fire station.

Ensure that hydrants are not defaced by removing parts or by making changes to their original colour.

Ensure that they are used for firefighting purposes and no other.

Let us not take chances with our lives and properties. Let us protect our fire hydrants and create ease for the firefighters as they aim to provide us with efficient and effective firefighting.

- Article prepared by Maveta Bailey-Hall, acting assistant superintendent, RT&D.