Housing Complex

DC Water Would Like You to Please Not Break Fire Hydrants

Looks good, right?

Looks good, right?

The new, chattier D.C. Water public relations operation has issued a pre-emptive warning that even though it's hot outside–so hot–it's a bad idea to open fire hydrants and let the life-giving water gush out.

“Turning on hydrants without the proper tools can damage the hydrant, its nozzle, and even the underground pipes in the water distribution system,” said DC Water General Manager George S. Hawkins. “There’s a significant danger especially to children, who can be knocked over from the force of the water or endangered from traffic when their water play is in the street.”

Further, the high volume of water on roadways can wreak havoc with traffic. Open hydrants can also cause a drop in water pressure, affecting homes and businesses on the street, and impeding firefighting.

Have people already started doing this? No, says spokeswoman Pamela Mooring. "In the past we have had a problem during heatwaves with residents opening the hydrants and pressure dropping in the vicinity," she told Housing Complex. "During this heatwave, District agencies collaborated to ensure that the message gets out there before we have a problem."

Photo from flickr user Wesley Yendrys.

  • Jack

    Thanks for the gramatically atrocious headline.

  • Barry

    Talk about spin! First of all, the picture associated with this item looks like NYC in the 40's. Back in those days, liability was not as big an issue as it is today. And we now have air conditioning.

    Secondly, opening up a hydrant and letting "the life-giving water gush out" makes it sound like DC WASA and George Hawkins are the Grich that stole Christmas. Opening up high pressure hydrants is extremely dangerous. People can be injured or even killed. And what about all those reports of traffic jams caused by broken water mains in DC? How is this different? The hydrants are there for fire protection. If they are broken and there is a fire .... And an open hydrant does lower pressure and reduces flow. There may be some elderly people who really do need that life-giving water in this extreme heat, but from their faucets in their houses or apatrments. May not happen if there is hydrant open on their block for some kid on bicycle to ride through to cool down some.

    What were you thinking when you decided to spin this story the way you did?

  • Jamnew

    History is golden. I grew up in NE DC in the sixties and seventies and I remember on very hot days the DCFD would have kid days. They would block off the street at both ends and would open the hydrant and place some device on it that made it like a huge shower that shot straight up. We would play in the water until we were exhausted. This was great public relations for the DCFD. It did 2 things, the kids got to know the firemen and it cooled off a bunch of kids on a hot day when they couldn't get in the few overcrowded pools. I applaud DC Water for being proactive, but it would also be good to have program like this with the kids.

  • Lydia DePillis


    Whoa! I in no way meant to spin this press release, unless you consider remarking on the heat to be spin. I'm sure it's a terrible idea to open fire hydrants. However, it does seems like DC Water's preemptive warning itself is an admission that it would be quite tempting to do so.


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