Colorful Hydrants

You will be watching fire hydrants for a few days, trust me. I recently took the picture below because I saw a great photographic potential. What I did not anticipate was responses about the coloring systems.


This is what I have learned. The specifications for fire hydrants are contained in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 291, dated January 9, 2013.

Chrome Yellow hydrants are Municipal Hydrants, Red Hydrants are Private system hydrants, and Blue hydrants are reclaimed systems. Black hydrants are “dead” and not functioning.

The top or caps are painted to designate the amount of flow in Gallons per Minute. All Hydrants are to be tested yearly.


Light Blue caps are the “AA” rated hydrants with a flow rate of 1500 GPM or higher
Green caps denote an “A” rated hydrant with a flow rate of 1000 to 1499 GPM
Orange caps denote a “B” rated hydrant with a flow rate of 500 to 999 GPM
Red caps denote a “C” rated hydrant with a flow rate under 499 GPM


The color coding system helps reduce the time of getting water onto the fire by reducing having to test the strength or if a hydrant is functioning. In a fire situation, seconds can be critical. We do not want fire departments hooking up to a dead hydrant and then finding another working one.  It simply makes sense. The area around the hydrant needs to be clean and unobstructed.

As you drive home tonight or to work tomorrow, I bet you will be looking at the hydrants. They are not just painted to be pretty, but to safe lives.If you notice a hydrant that is not marked or in disrepair, please contact your local fire department with condition and street location.