Life made easier for fire crews with updated Windsor fire hydrants

Fire hydrants in the City of Windsor are getting a new look.

Currently, most hydrants in the city are yellow with the top (known as the bonnet) painted one of four colours: red, orange, green or blue. The colours indicate the amount of water available from the hydrant:

- Red: less than 1,900 litres (500 gallons) per minute.

- Orange: 1,900 - 3,799 litres (500 - 999 gallons) per minute.

- Green: 3,800 - 5,699 litres (1,000 - 1,499 gallons) per minute.

- Blue: 5,700 litres (1,500 gallons) or greater per minute.

Of the city's approximately 7,100 hydrants, most are blue-rated, with only 400 red hydrants remaining, explained Dave Melnyk. He's the director of water distribution for Enwin Utilities, which maintains the city's hydrant system.

He said sometimes the installation of new water mains and other upgrades to the system can result in a lower flow hydrant being upgraded to a different colour.

Crews test and paint 20 per cent of the city's hydrants each year.

Now, instead of painting the bonnet of the hydrants, crews are painting them all yellow, with a reflective plastic disc indicating the colour rating placed on the side ports.

According to Andrea DeJong, deputy chief of Windsor Fire and Rescue Services, the switch is due to a change in standards from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

"It identified ... either the cap has to be painted a reflective colour at the top or they have to have some sort of reflective [material] on them that identifies what their flow rating is," she said.

After discussions with Enwin, it was decided that Windsor would follow cities such as Toronto, London and St. Catharines​ and install the durable plastic disc instead of reflective paint.

DeJong said the change has been appreciated by her crews because they can make quick adjustments as to where to place the trucks early on, rather than having to go back into maps or request for hydrant locations.

"At night, we can pull up and we can see all of the reflective rings going all the way up the street," she said.

Enwin's Melnyk said the change is saving his team time and money as well.

"You can imagine the time it does take to go out, sand and paint a hydrant, especially when you have different colours," he said. "Now with reflective markers, it is much simpler to put on, you can hit a hydrant in under 30 seconds."

Enwin and Windsor Fire and Rescue Services will continue to evaluate the new look — monitoring, for example, if the new discs are resistant to vandalism.