Why Don't Fire Hydrants Freeze and Burst During Winter? | Summary and Q&A

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November 3, 2018
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Why Don't Fire Hydrants Freeze and Burst During Winter?

TL;DR

Fire hydrants evolved from the use of fire plugs, which were time-consuming to access. The introduction of cast-iron water mains led to the invention of the fire hydrant we know today.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What were the limitations of using fire plugs during fires?

Fire plugs required digging and moving cobblestones, which wasted valuable firefighting time. They were only located in areas where fires had occurred before, so new holes had to be drilled in unexperienced areas.

Q: How did cast-iron water mains improve the fire hydrant system?

Cast-iron water mains replaced hollowed out logs and fire plugs, providing taps above street level like faucets. Firefighters now had easy access to reliable water sources and predictable locations.

Q: Who is credited with inventing the fire hydrant design we use today?

Frederick Graff, Sr. is generally credited with inventing the fire hydrant design known as the "post" or "pillar" design, featuring a hose/faucet outlet and a valve on the top.

Q: What is the difference between wet-barrel and dry-barrel fire hydrants?

Wet-barrel hydrants, like Graff's design, always have water flowing into them and are used in warmer climates. Dry-barrel hydrants connect to a water main below the frost line and do not have water flowing into them at all times, suitable for areas with freezing winters.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Fire plugs were used to access water mains during fires, but they required digging and took up valuable firefighting time.

  • Cast-iron water mains were introduced as a solution to the problems with fire plugs and allowed for easier access to water.

  • Frederick Graff, Sr. is credited with inventing the fire hydrant design that resembles modern hydrants.

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