Hydrant Flow Testing Begins in Kala Point Jan 5

Not all fire hydrants are red. In fact, the majority of Jefferson County PUD’s over 550 fire hydrants are yellow. That’s because hydrants are painted yellow to denote they are part of a public water system, as all PUD hydrants are. But the hydrants aren’t only painted yellow. Some of them have red, blue, orange, or green painted caps and/or rings. And these colors mean something, to both the PUD and the Fire Department.

In Kala Point, however, the hydrants are blue. And orange. According to PUD Water Crew Lead Eric Storey, that’s because, prior to the PUD talking over in 2012, Kala Point had a private water system. Starting January 5th, however, Kala Point hydrants will get their first officially designated color coding following a round of flow testing by the PUD. The flow tests determine how much water can flow through a hydrant. The amount of flow, measured in gallons per minute (GPM) determines the secondary color assigned to the hydrant. Red means less than 500GPM. Orange is 500-1000 GPM, Green is between 1000 and 1500 GPM, and Blue is over 1500 GPM.

Hydrants in Kala Point, Chimacum

For the PUD, the flow testing is a part of the standard maintenance that comes with managing a water system. The testing in Kala Point will be done by a contractor, Fire Solutions NW, who will provide the PUD a written report that indicates static pressure, flow rates, and pressure drops as well as, if needed, dechlorinate the water or make recommendations for repair. The contractor will also fit the hydrants with the appropriate colored collar to indicate their flow rate.

For the Fire Department, the color code tells them how much water they can pull from the hydrant to put out a potential fire. According to the Iowa State University’s Rate of Flow formula 500 GPM, for example, is needed to service a 2-story house that is 50 feet wide by 50 feet long (Required volume = (length x width x height) ÷ 100). Regular flow testing (or the lack thereof) also affects a Fire Department’s insurance rating. More frequent flow tests = better ratings.

Another factor affecting ratings? The type of hose connection a hydrant has. The traditional screw thread connection takes more time and effort and provides for a lower score, so the PUD has ordered and begun installing ¼ turn quick connection adapters to all Kala Point hydrants. The PUD’s Storey indicated that 30 were installed in 2017, and the final 19 will be installed in 2018.

Kala Point is just the first stop on a system wide series of hydrant tests and maintenance for the PUD. And with each stop, data collected on the hydrants will be entered into the PUD’s GIS mapping system. Casey Finedell, the PUD’s GIS specialist, has been busy cataloging all PUD assets on maps for the last 2 years. Whether it’s a hydrant or an electrical transformer, a PUD crew member can pull up not only the location of the asset, but all associated manufacturing and maintenance data, as well as notes left by other crew members, either in the office or onsite to perform a repair.