By BECKY KISER
Hays firefighters are testing the city’s more than 1,100 fire hydrants this month.
Each test takes 8 to 10 minutes, according firefighter Travis Hageman.
He and firefighter Justin Choitz were working on the east side of Vine Street Friday afternoon, in front of Dillons and Peerless Tires. Those two hydrants happened to be the ones used by the Hays Fire Department during a recent structure fire at C & E Doors.
The testing is done annually and compared with the previous year’s results.
“If there’s a discrepancy from year to year, we investigate to see if there’s a problem with the system,” said Choitz. “Maybe a valve is closed somewhere or the supply is getting used a lot more than we anticipated.”
The water supply for fire hydrants comes from static underground tanks at the Hays Water Department on south Vine Street and the city’s two water towers.
“We find out how much water pressure there is in the system,” Choitz explained. “Then we exercise the system and check the quantity of water for a minute or so.”
“It also helps purge the line of sediment whether it’s rust, mud, dirt or debris. It’s just like the water lines in your house. If you don’t flow the water once in a while, you’ll see some rusty water.” The associated flushing of water mains allows chlorine to be distributed throughout the system to eliminate bio-filming in the water mains.
The top of each fire hydrant is painted one of four colors – red, orange, green or blue – depending on how much water flows through it. The base of all Hays fire hydrants is yellow.
Inspecting the fire hydrants also ensures there is no damage or obstruction that would interfere with the prompt use of the hydrants in an emergency.
Slight discoloration of the water supply may occur during the hydrant flushes, although there is no health risk to the consumer.