Looking for a volunteer project? Help firefighters by repainting fire hydrants!

girl scouts painting fire hydrant

Most people only give fire hydrants a passing glance, but to firefighters, each hydrant has color-coded info to give them quick and critical information, minimizing response time in emergencies. That’s why each hydrant gets a new paint job about every two years, and that’s where the great work of community volunteers comes in.

Throughout the year, school groups, scout troops, youth groups and neighborhood organizations pitch in some elbow grease and put a new coat of paint on Asheville’s hydrants. There is plenty of painting to go around for anyone interested in this volunteer opportunity. With the weather warming up, what better way to get outside and lend a helping hand?

“The Asheville Fire Department is responsible for around 3,000 fire hydrants, and that goes for testing, flushing, and yes, repainting,” says AFD Captain Eric Velez. “It’s a big task, so we appreciate all the help we get.”

The bright coat of paint helps responding firefighters spot hydrants quickly, and the colors tell them what water pressure the hydrant has and what kind of coupling to use. Red, orange, green and blue all denote different water flow. That information is crucial when seconds can mean saved lives or property.

The volunteer effort got a big lift when the United Way included hydrant repainting as part of its Day of Caring event a few years ago, and the department wants to keep that great momentum going.

“We are always looking for people who want to pitch in,” Velez says. So far the response has been great, and Velez says volunteers have ranged from home school students completing service projects to office coworkers in team building exercises.

Volunteers go through a short training and the AFD provides paint, brushes and safety vest. A team can repaint three or four hydrants an hour, and volunteers can choose where they want to work. “It’s a big help. It’s fun and it’s a great way to get to know the fire department in a new way,” Velez says.

To sign up to repaint Asheville fire hydrants, please contact Neighborhood Coordinator Marsha Stickford at mstickford@ashevillenc.gov.