It is really hard for us to recognise the importance of everyday things in our busy lives. We tend to overlook the significance of random objects which leaves a significant remark on our lives like just a fire hydrant. But when we are considering the origins of the fire hydrant, we can see that they are playing a crucial role in keeping our surroundings safe. The proof of this comes from the fact that you don't really care about putting out a fire unless you are a firefighter. But just a century ago we had to be responsible for saving the lives of us and our neighbours from a sudden fire. The modern-day firefighting units have only replaced the neighbouring bucket brigade as there is specialized equipment like the fire hydrant and fire engine.
The shift from random to strategic water supply systems
Firefighting was not systematic like it is today. During the ancient cities, cisterns were deployed to strategic areas to provide quick access to water in cases of fire. Wherever it was hard for supplying large quantities of water, bucket brigades were required to keep the whole neighbourhoods safe from fire. However, buckets were not enough for confronting the infernos of larger cities. So during the 17th century, firefighters started using water mains to supply their water. When a sudden fire breaks out, firefighters would uncover a main and make a hole to reach the water supply. With pre-crafted plugs, the holes were sealed and the main was covered again. While fire plugs were useful, they alone were not enough in preventing a disaster.
Though fire plugs offered a good source of water, removing the plugs actually caused critical delays. Fire brigades started carrying portable spouts for getting quicker access. In many European cities, during the 17th and early 18th centuries, fire plugs were replaced by permanent valves. While in Europe, ground-level valves which are now known as flush hydrants became spreading in the United States, the more iconic fire hydrant came into existence.
The Basic Features of Fire Hydrants
Two major designs for hydrants evolved from the initial introduction. The initial design from Frederick Grant was a dry barrel hydrant in which the valve and the water supply is placed below the ground. This prevented the water from getting frozen in the winter. But during the latter half of the 18th century, a newer wet barrel hydrant came into existence. The wet barrel hydrants are best suited for warm climates. In this, the valve is placed above the ground for having quicker access to water.
Modern Day Fire Hydrants
With the basic demands being realised, the new demands of the modern world caused fire hydrants to adapt in the 20th and 21st centuries. The new fire hydrant designs are delivering more water than needed because they are crucial instruments in putting out fires efficiently and fast. The security of fire hydrants has always been a point of concern. Fire hydrants faced a unique challenge with the popularisation of cars as they can collide with them. For this, an extra layer of protection was added to the dry barrel fire hydrants for protecting the valves. Manufacturers have introduced new protection systems that make unauthorized use of hydrants more difficult, as threats of metal theft, vandalism, and even terrorism increase. Hydrants though have stayed mostly the same for the last several years, there are still new developments which are increasing efficiency and security.
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