hydrant flow testing

Enid firefighters Carlos Cornejo, Kurt Pendergraft and Cody Keller (from left) demonstrate hydrant flow testing at Station 1 in this May 13, 2022 file photo, May 13, 2022.

ENID, Okla. — All of Enid’s fire hydrants will be inspected and tested over the next several weeks to ensure they’re working efficiently for fire protection.

Enid residents could expect to see, temporarily, low water pressure and discolored water, as Enid Fire Department conducts annual flow tests on roughly 2,152 fire hydrants most weekdays through early June, beginning on Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

EFD Deputy Chief Mark Morris said an average of 75 fire hydrants will be tested per day when groups are out conducting the flow tests.

In addition to ensuring the water system is functioning correctly, Morris said EFD will be able to identify any problems with hydrants and make repairs, if needed, and will know what the water flow of the hydrants is, which helps in firefighting efforts.

“If we need a hydrant, we want to make sure that it works,” Morris said. “If you live near a hydrant, and for some reason it fails, that would not be ideal, so we’re just ensuring that every hydrant we come to — we already know what to expect out of it.”

Flow testing is required to maintain the community’s Class 2 Insurance Services Office (ISO) Public Protection Classification, Morris added.

Morris said firefighters will first inspect a fire hydrant and make sure nothing is obviously broken before attaching a gauge to a port and a “hose monster,” which is a device that measures the flow of the water coming out of the port.

Then, they’ll open the fire hydrant and let the water flow through the “hose monster” and record the pressures.

“We’ll look for a couple of things: “Does the hydrant function properly? Does it open and close? Does it have any major leak? Can one person open it,?” Morris asked.

Firefighters will measure the static pressure, flow pressure and residual pressure to determine how many gallons per minute firefighters can get from the fire hydrant — “to see what the potential” of it is.

“And we’ll compare the ‘potential’ to what it measured in previous years to see if there’s a trend — like, ‘For some reason, this line is getting worse,’ or ‘This is only half as good as it was last year,’” Morris said. “We’re just trying to identify problems in the water system and also ensure that all of our hydrants function properly.”

Based on the results, a reflective, plastic ring is placed on the fire hydrant to show how many GPM of water flowed from it, which EFD began doing last year instead of repainting the bonnets, or top portions, of Enid’s fire hydrants.

A blue ring means there’s more than 1,500 GPM of water from that hydrant; a green ring means there’s between 1,000 and 1,499 GPM of water; an orange ring means there’s between 500 and 999 GPM of water; and a red ring means less than 500 GPM of water.

“That way, we can know, just by looking at one, ... exactly what to expect if we were to hook up to a hydrant and try to pump at a house fire,” Morris said.

On Tuesday, March 21, 2023,crews from the Enid Fire Department will begin flow tests in three areas: Pine to Maple between Van Buren and Fourth; Broadway to Maine between 15th and 30th; and Willow to Driftwood between Garland and Oakwood.

Flow tests will also occur in four areas Wednesday, March 22, 2023: Randolph to Maine between Van Buren and Grand; Cherry to Chestnut Central and 21st; Oakwood Country Club to Chestnut between Oakwood and Westwood; and the Advance Soccer Complex on Garland.

Further neighborhood testing locations will be announced on EFD’s Facebook and in the News & Eagle.

The flow tests disrupt rust and sediment in the water lines. The discolored water is not harmful, but it could stain light-colored clothes and linens.

EFD advises people, after the flow tests are finished in their areas, to turn on their faucets until the water runs clear before showering or doing laundry and to avoid running hot water until it clears so that sediment won’t be added to hot water heaters.

“Just watch out for firefighters out there near the streets,” Morris added, “and be careful when you’re driving around or operating motor vehicles in the areas where we’re flowing hydrants.”

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McKendrick is police and court reporter for the Enid News & Eagle. 
Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for Kelci? Send an email to kelcim@enidnews.com.

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