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Keep clear of fire hydrants

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue service have approximately 11,000 fire hydrants spread throughout the county. They are located in public footways or highways and it is our responsibility to ensure that these hydrants are kept serviceable and available for use in the event of fire.

It is not always possible for our fire appliances to carry all the water they need to put out a serious fire. To supply us with additional water we rely upon a network of fire hydrants to provide a water supply in the vicinity of a fire.

What is a fire hydrant?

Contrary to popular belief fire hydrants are not the above ground pillar type hydrants as seen in American films, but are underground. Their presence is indicated by above ground yellow marker posts which identify the location of the hydrant and the size of the water main. The hydrant itself is in a chamber under the surface of the road or path covered by a lid usually marked with the letters “FH”, although some lids may have other markings. We also use yellow paint to help identify a fire hydrant cover.  The hydrant requires a standpipe to access the water supply and a specially designed key to turn the water on.

In the event of fire, it is vital that firefighters have access to water supplies quickly. Obstruction of fire hydrants, particularly inconsiderate parking could place the lives of you, your family and your neighbours at risk. A person commits an offence if they damage or obstruct a fire hydrant and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £500 (Fire and Rescue Services Act Section 42).

Help us - reporting a hydrant defect

Hydrant marker posts or plates help firefighters to quickly identify the location of fire hydrants. Sadly these occasionally get vandalised or damaged and, when missing or obscured this can waste valuable minutes in locating a hydrant, which can potentially cost lives or increase the amount of damage in a fire.

We encourage contact from the general public in relation to problems or enquiries about fire hydrants. Reports of any damaged or leaking fire hydrants or related equipment are inspected and repaired as soon as possible.

A fire hydrant marker post and plate are yellow and the lid of the chamber is usually painted yellow as well, although the paint can wear off with time. White or grey posts with a blue identification plate are the responsibility of the Water Company (in Bedfordshire this will be either Anglian Water or Affinity Water).  If you spot a problem please contact us either by e-mail or contact 01234 845000 and ask for the Water Supplies section.

When reporting a defect to a Hydrant please provide address/location of Hydrant including postcode if possible and what damage you noticed ie plate broken, post broken, lid broken, leaking or any other damage.

Illegal use

It is also illegal to use a fire hydrant to obtain water for purposes other than firefighting, unless authorised by the water authority or other person to whom the hydrant belongs. Unauthorised access to the hydrant pit is not allowed. Persons found to be using fire hydrants without the appropriate authorisation are liable to prosecution.

A person commits an offence if they damages or obstructs a fire hydrant and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £500 (Fire and Rescue Services Act Section 42). Water companies can license the use of their hydrants to third parties such as street cleaners. However, if you suspect a fire hydrant is being used illegally without permission you can either report it to our Water Team. The more information you can provide about the user (such as location, date, time, company name, vehicle license plate number or similar) the easier it is for us to investigate.

Private fire hydrants

Private fire hydrants are located on private water mains that are not the responsibility of the local water company or the fire and rescue service. These are generally located on large sites such as hospitals, military establishments, and industrial estates, but may also be installed to provide cover for specific risk properties. Private hydrants are the responsibility of the owners/occupiers on whose land they are installed and will not be maintained by either the water company or the Fire and Rescue Service. Private fire hydrants can be inspected and tested by BFRS if required.

Private hydrants should be installed in accordance with the appropriate British standards and should be compatible with fire and rescue service equipment.

Where private hydrants are installed they should be tested and maintained and be in good working order by the responsible person(s), and BFRS can help you meet these requirements if you are responsible for private fire hydrants. Please make enquiries using the details below.


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