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Fire hydrants are a common sight around us. You probably see them almost every day and anyone with common sense understands that it is a water source for emergency purposes. Their most common purpose although, is to assist firefighters when they need water supply to put out fires.

If you indeed have the idea about what these fire hydrants are for, then you should also have the basic idea to understand what difficulties firemen have to face while putting out a fire. A parked car in front of a fire hydrant is the last thing that they want in that situation so it is a big no.

This article will deal in chronological order the functions of a fire hydrant and the minimum distance at which a car should be parked from it.

How a fire hydrant works and the different colors of fire hydrants and their purpose

Beneath fire hydrants are underground pipes that are connected to huge water supply sources. These sources can be accessed by authorized people who are responsible for disaster management like firefighters. The firefighters connect the hose which they use to extinguish the fire to the side of the hydrant and a pentagon-shaped instrument is used to loosen the nut on top of it.

As we had mentioned before, only authorized people carry this unique tool and hence, only they can extract the water from the water supply. Once the nut is open, the water can be accessed from the underground water supply. The reason why water isn’t available in a hydrant whenever required is that the water might freeze causing it to jam when required. Also, any kind of accident might lead to a huge loss of water. The hydrant is further connected to the fire truck. The water can be extracted from the hydrant with the help of a pump and distributed around multiple hoses.

Different colors

Hydrants are mostly of the color red and yellow and this is due to the simple reason that the colors are identifiable for everyone due to their bright nature. Firefighters will have ease in finding these colors which also prove how important they are. There are different colors in hydrants also to let the firefighters know how many gallons of water they extract per minute with blue being the highest and red being the lowest.

How far can I park the car from a fire hydrant?

It is known to us that a car has to be at a minimum distance of one meter from the fire hydrant to not face any legal consequences but states like California have stated that a car should be parked at a minimum distance of 15 feet from the hydrant.

Other than this, a public bus driver can park in front of a fire hydrant if and only if he does not leave the bus on its own. The same rule applies to taxi drivers too. They can also park in front of the hydrant only if they are there in their vehicle.

How to identify a fire hydrant?

Fire hydrants are marked clearly enough in various ways to let people know their whereabouts in case of emergencies. Some of them are marked by blue reflective­ indicators which are put up on marker posts or blue cat’s eye on the road. Their direction can also be indicated through the use of triangles on the road.

Some clarifications regarding this issue

People have had problems in understanding the no parking rules in front of fire hydrants before. One such example is of California resident Terri Bates who had a doubt regarding the color of the fire hydrant and the parking laws surrounding it.

He claimed that drivers parked in front of fire hydrants almost always since their hydrants had no paint and asked about the rules regarding unpainted fire hydrants. Well if you are having the same question as Terri, I will tell you that it doesn’t matter.

Be it painted or not, every hydrant has the same purpose and the California Department of Motor Vehicles Drivers Handbook states that the car has to be parked at a minimum distance of 15 feet as had been discussed earlier but isn’t it common sense to keep the car at a safe distance? I’ll let you decide.

What happens when you park in front of a fire hydrant?

A parking ticket or your car being towed will be the least of your concerns if there is a fire in the area you parked your car, in front of the hydrant. There might be serious consequences. One such example is of the fire department is in Anaheim California, where a car was parked exactly in front of the hydrant they needed.

They had to break the windows of the car to get the hose through it and had explained through several photographs to explain to people why they could not get the hose above or around the car. The hose needs to be straight for the water to reach its destination. It sure looked funny but it is nothing but a serious issue.

Final thoughts

Being a responsible citizen and following law and order are the very foundations on which this society has been created and we have very simple tasks to follow, like parking a good deal away from a fire hydrant.

You never know when it might make a difference. You being considerate and parking a car just a few feet away from what might become a precious resource to save lives might just be the difference. Any human being with a conscience will surely not do it after this elaborate article and here’s to hoping!

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