Fire hydrants are designed to provide water for fire suppression purposes. Fire hydrants in our City are installed and maintained by the Public Works/Utility Department. Fire hydrants are supplied by large water tanks that are piped underground throughout the City. They are strategically placed to provide the best water protection available and having a good water system allows the City to have a better ISO rating. ISO inspectors also review the accessibility, condition and maintenance of fire hydrants. The better the ISO rating, the better insurance rates that are available to homeowners.
The Florida Fire Prevention code/NFPA 1 is adopted triennially by the State Fire Marshal per Florida Statute. Within the code(s) are certain prescriptive requirements that are to be enforced by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). Chapter 18.1 provides requirements for fire department access and water supply, specifically section 18.3.4 requires, "Fire hydrants and connections or other approved water supplies shall be accessible to the fire department".
Fire hydrants are only effective if we can find them and fully operate them. There should be no obstructions in front of the hydrant to the street and no obstructions 4" feet behind and (7.5 ft.) on each side and (7.5 ft.) in front. Because of the large equipment and hoses we must connect to the hydrant, (7.5 ft.) is the minimum distance all around that we need to operate the hydrant safely. No obstructions such as shrubs or fences should be in front of the hydrant. Obstructions such as these make it difficult to find a hydrant quickly.
These clearances prevent delays in finding and using fire hydrants and fire protection equipment.
Q: Why is it important not to have obstructions around fire hydrants?
When responding to a fire situation, our fire apparatus carry a limited supply of water. We rely on strategically located fire hydrants to supply us with the water we need to help with extinguishing a fire. To do our job more efficiently, we must be able to locate these fire hydrants quickly. Therefore, they must be clearly visible to us and unobstructed by vehicles, fences, or vegetation. The laws in our jurisdiction recognize this and address the issue.
Q: Can I paint the fire hydrant in front of my house?
A: The short answer, no. The long answer, no. Fire hydrants are painted blue with white tops by the city so as to be easily seen, and readily recognized by the fire department as being active.
Q: Why does the Utility department keep telling me to move my fence or bushes around fire hydrant?
Once a year, the Utility department does fire hydrant maintenance, clearing the hydrants of brush, and inspecting all the hydrants for code compliance. The City of Palm Coast Public Works/Utility Department has Fire Codes that require that all hydrants be clear of obstacles inhibiting their use, and that they remain visible for a distance of 50' on approach from the roadway, regardless of direction of travel. Basically, the hydrant;
- must not have anything higher than ground cover placed between it and the road,
- nothing higher than 6"of ground cover within three to five feet of the hydrant,
- Clearance around fire hydrants must have 4ft behind 7.5 ft. on both sides of hydrant and 7.5 ft. in front and nothing blocking the hydrant from view: the hydrant must be visible to vehicle traffic for a minimum distance of fifty feet in either direction.
If you receive a notice that you have a fence, plant or other obstructing item, you must take corrective action. If sufficient access in not provided we will make the necessary adjustment around the fire hydrant. If you are not sure of what actions need to be taken, contact the Public Works/Utility Department.
Q: The fire hydrant in front of my house is ugly and I want to hide it, can I?
A: The short answer, no. Based upon the Florida fire prevention code NFPA1, hiding a hydrant could be considered a violation. Simply putting up some kind of natural (plant) or artificial (fence) screening between your residence and the hydrant may be OK, as long as it maintains an adequate working radius around the hydrant, and does not block its view from the roadway and approaches. If you wish to do some landscaping, wall building, or fence construction near a hydrant, please contact the Public Works/Utility Department first to see if it meets the proper clearance required. This could avert additional costs and concerns.
Q: What can I do as a resident of Palm Coast to help?
A: You can help yourself, your neighbors, and your local firefighters by simply keeping an eye on the hydrant, trimming back/down any growth nearby, notifying the water department of any damage or maintenance issues, and ensuring that adequate clearances and proper visibility are maintained. If a hydrant cannot be found, it cannot be used. Please help us make them easy to find.