City Officials: ‘Don’t Open A Fire Hydrant To Stay Cool’

CHICAGO (CBS) — One big problem the city is not happy about amid this week’s heat wave: the number of open fire hydrants.

Since Monday, the city has shut off more than 1,700 open hydrants, with roughly 200 still gushing as of 5 p.m. on Thursday.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports that open hydrants are a major safety concern.

Open fire hydrants can create water pressure problems for firefighters when they’re trying to douse a blaze. Plus, officials say open hydrants are an accident waiting to happen.

It might look like a cool way to beat the heat, but open fire hydrants are a major public safety issue.

“Don’t open a fire hydrant to stay cool,” said Gary Schenkel, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

But that message is lost on many children who play in the spray of water from open hydrants to keep cool and to some adults who defend the practice.

“Actually I feel it’s great for the kids stop, man, to some of the killing; stop all the negative behavior that’s going on out here,” South Side resident Patrick Strange said.

It’s easy to see some of the complications that open hydrants present. Kids can disappear in the water’s strong spray, hiding them from drivers who might not necessarily slow down as they pass an open hydrant.

“The kids need to be more alert themselves and know they are actually playing in the street,” South Side resident Evie Foster said.

Strange said that, even though kids playing in the spray from an open hydrant might be at risk from motorists who can’t see them, “they might get killed just for nothing, just standing here. They got nothing to do.”

The torrents also reduce water pressure, threatening the city’s ability to fight a potential fire at worst and reducing water pressure to nearby homes and businesses at the very least.

Foster said that when someone opens the hydrant on her block the water pressure at her house is “a little low, but it doesn’t go off

Since Monday, city crews have closed 1,714 open hydrants, with 207 still open shortly before 5 p.m.

In many cases, like at 53rd Street and King Drive, someone opened a hydrant that had been closed at least once before after complaints from neighbors.

“I didn’t come down yesterday, but I said I need to go down today, stick my legs in the water,” Foster said.

Asked who opened that hydrant on Thursday, Strange said, “Actually, I do not know, sir. But whoever did it, I was proud of them to do something positive like this.”

Crews who have been sent to close open hydrants said that, often when they arrive to shut them off, they’re met with a lot of anger from some of the residents.

  • JustDumb!

    Leave it to black man to say some stupid, idiotic remarks on why the fire hydrants should be opened. Nevermind that it poses a major safety hazard, not only to the children, but for people driving…..this idiot can not see that. Please whoever is reading this, don’t think that ALL black people are of this mind set.
    If you want to cool off do what we did, go in the backyard with a hose and get wet back there, NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET WHERE PEOPLE ARE DRIVING!!

  • Andrew Petersen

    More proof of the vast chasm in Intelligence on the West and South Sides.

    Also the large gap in Income….Air Conditioned verses No A/C in the house.

    Want to cool off ? Go to the Beach or to parks that have the Water activities…but that would make sense.

  • empirical

    These people, those quoited in the article, are just too stupid for words. Is there any wonder as to why the city is in the state it is?

  • Bill

    Buy a bag of ice,drop it in your tub,and enjoy!!Problem solved responsibly!

  • rayrayischillin

    Anyone who thinks that all of the open fire hidrants are in minority areas must be too dumb for words also. Get a life and get a grip on reality!!!

    • JustDumb!

      The only reality is that YOU think that nobody should tell YOU what common sense IS or WHAT safety is! Are you and the man in the piece brothas???? Because your comment is too dumb for words!

  • JeanSC

    The one fact missing from this story is that opening fire hydrants, unless you’re a firefighter or authorized by the CFD, is ILLEGAL in Chicago.

    • citizens can help

      So true. It is ILLEGAL to tamper with fire hydrants. The city needs to ENFORCE THE LAW by giving monetary fines, tickets and arrests. But it’s up to the community to help them. Citizens can report incidences anonymously by calling the police and/or fire department. It saves water and lives.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live