MIAMI – Gallons and gallons of water will gush and flow from 130 fire hydrants in the southwest part of Miami, which will all be flushed starting next week. Residents in the southwest area of town may experience some discolored water, according to City of Miami Public Utilities Director Tyler Cline and Fire Chief Robert Wright.
“We are notifying residents with door hangers, we're putting it on our website, Facebook and Twitter, and here in the paper and on radio to get the word out,” Cline said. “We even rented a road sign that flashes to let them know.”
The Miami Fire Department and Miami Public Utilities will complete maintenance and flow testing of fire hydrants and waterlines in the southwest starting on Nov.14 and running through Nov. 17. Testing will take place from Southwest Central and Main Street to the city limits.
The expected schedule for the week is: Monday - Central to 2nd S.W.; Tuesday - Steve Owens to the Fairgrounds; Wednesday - E. 110 Rd to 19th Street S.W.; and Thursday - 20th Street S.W. to E 130 Road.
The fire hydrant flushing serves a few purposes, the first of which is to determine if the hydrants are in good working order and are operational. It is also done in order to comply with ISO (Insurance Service Organization) requirements.
“ISO evaluates and rates everything from your fire department, to your dispatch, to your water supply," Wright said. "You have to check each part of the system every five years and you have to check one part of it every year. So, if we hit the southwest this year, next year we can do the northwest or another section to meet their schedule.”
Wright said in the past the fire department has flushed the entire city in one year, but this time they plan to test the hydrants in different parts of Miami on a regular schedule.
Flushing and checking each hydrant will allow firefighters and utility workers to get a close look at each and every one.
“We take the caps off and we lube them with a food grade lubricant and then we work the stem, which is what lets the gasket up and allows the water to come into the hydrant and out the barrel,” Wright said. “Then we are going to flow that, hopefully until it flows clean, and then we're going to shut it back and go to the next one. We'll have probably four crews doing that.”
Defective fire hydrants will be marked for repair or replacement, according to Cline.
“New hydrants are about $3,000 apiece,” he said.
Miami's Fire Chief said he expects the number of hydrants needing replacement to be minimal and others may just need minor repair or parts replacement.
Allowing gallons and gallons of water to flush through the opened hydrants also serves to clear them of settled deposits of rust, silt and debris.
“When we flush them there are sediments that build up over time, and you're helping to get that out," Cline said. "The door hangers we are putting out have basic tips like avoid running your tap water, or using your washing machine or dishwasher while they're flushing in the area because it is going to stir up a lot of sediments we are trying to flush out. Don't wash your whites while we're out there. We ask that everybody check for discolored water and run water at your house when we're done and make sure it's clear. It won't hurt you.”
Cline advised if you do wash laundry and find it has an orange discoloration, don't dry the clothes, but re-wash them as soon as the line has cleared, and most times the discoloration will wash right out.
Flow testing will also be done with a meter on a fire truck to test water flow on each line.
“We are going to flow test every line,” Wright said.
Cline said when new businesses come into Miami they contact the fire chief to determine what the fire flow is to their facility.
“They will use that to design their fire flow system for their building,” he said.
Both men commented about how the nicer November weather will help make the project easier. Wright said depending on how this round of hydrant testing and flushing goes, the department will create a schedule for testing the rest of Miami's hydrants, possibly as soon as after the first of the year.
“Usually we've taken care of it and this is the first time, to my knowledge, the utility workers have been involved,” he said. “You know, they're the guys who are going to be fixing them.”
An additional benefit from the hydrant flush will be that firefighters will become even more aware of where each city hydrant is located.
“They are supposed to be 900 feet, but a lot of times they will be 300 feet apart. We carry 1,000 feet of hose on our truck, but out in some blocks such as L and M you will have one on every block,” Wright said. “We’ve got our maps at the station and they’re all marked on our maps, so if we get a call they can look at the map and see where the plugs are located. So we use that, but, for me, when I physically put my hands on something I know it a lot better. ”
The results of the hydrant check will be documented and on file for ISO to review.
Residents who have any questions may call the City of Miami’s Operations Center of the Miami Fire Department and updates will be sent out by Facebook and Twitter if the schedule changes for any reason.