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Metro Brief: Residents urged to beat the heat without opening fire hydrants

District of Columbia

On July 2, 2013

  • As temperatures heat up, fire officials are urging residents not to tamper with fire hydrants.

As temperatures rise, the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department and DC Water urge District residents not to open fire hydrants to beat the heat. Unauthorized hydrant use can hamper firefighting, damage the water system and cause injury. It can also flood streets, creating traffic dangers.
 "Hydrants need to be ready and available to fight fires," said DC Water General Manager George S. Hawkins. "Only official personnel with specialized tools should operate them. Opening a hydrant without the right tools can damage the hydrant, the nozzle and the pipes in the water distribution system."
 District Fire and EMS Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe added, "Opening a hydrant can lower the water pressure and seriously affect our ability to fight fires. Also, the force of pressurized water coming out of a hydrant can knock a person down and lead to injury."
 D.C. residents and visitors can keep cool by staying in shade or air conditioning and drinking plenty of water. When the temperature or heat index reaches 95, residents are encouraged to take extra precautions against the heat. If they do not live in an air-conditioned building, they may take refuge at a District swimming pool, cooling center, recreation facility, senior center or other air-conditioned building.
 More information, and locations, can be found at or by calling 311.
 DC Water offers a misting tent and cooling stations for large community events sponsored by District agencies and community groups. The stations are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis by calling the Office of External Affairs at 202.787.2200. The misting tent has an online registration option at
 In the event of a life-threatening heat emergency, please call 911 for medical assistance. Tampering with a District hydrant is a crime subject to a $100 fine. To report unauthorized use of fire hydrants, please call the DC Water Command Center at 202.612.3400. 

To learn more about the perils of opening a hydrant, go online:

DC Water video
Ask Wendy about hydrants

Misting tent requests

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