Benefits of Color Coding Fire Hydrants

What color should a fire hydrant be? The answer to that question can be complex and confusing to some but provide crucial information to others. The truth is, fire hydrants can come in a variety of colors, with some painted multiple colors with the benefit in the eye of the beholders and those they serve.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards advise that hydrants with non-potable water sources be painted violet to distinguish from drinking water sources. OSHA also recommends temporarily inoperable units be painted black.

The National Fire Protection Association has developed recommendations for a standardized color-coding system to address all fire hydrants in the United States. Although the NFPA recommendations are commonly used, they have not been adopted in all jurisdictions. With the installation of fire hydrants California, it can be beneficial to understand the color-coding system.


According to NFPA, public hydrants should have a yellow barrel while private ones should be red. In addition, both paint colors should have a reflective characteristic to make them easier to find in the dark. From there, hydrants are classified according to their rated capacities and another determinator such as residual pressure.


Hydrants with the highest flow rate should have the hydrant cap painted light blue, those with the next highest flow rate should be green, the next orange and those with the lowest should be red. This is important because the rate at which water flows from the hydrant impacts the ability of firefighters to put out the fire. Some units may also have the flow rate stenciled on the top to indicate a very high or very low flow rate.

At times, firefighters may need to use more than one hydrant at the same time. In these cases, having special markings on the hydrants to indicate the group-flow capacity can be incredibly helpful to firefighters.

All of this information is incredibly important; however, because these recommendations are not universally accepted, there are numerous color possibilities. For example, the owner of a private fire hydrant could paint it any desired color. Fortunately, if this is the case, the owner also needs to enclose the hydrant so that it is not confused with others. Local jurisdictions can also choose their own hydrant colors based on their own coding system. Thus, while some colors may conflict with NFPA recommendations, most of the basic recommendations are in common use.



Geek Upd8 - Law Reporter: Benefits of Color Coding Fire Hydrants
Benefits of Color Coding Fire Hydrants
Geek Upd8 - Law Reporter
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