There are nearly 4,000 fire hydrants in the City of Asheville and every couple of years they need a new coat of paint. Each year, the Asheville Fire Department repaints one half of Asheville’s fire hydrants in order to extend their life spans and to be more visible to firefighters. Covering that kind of ground takes a lot of hands holding a lot of paintbrushes. That’s where Asheville’s active and engaged volunteer community comes in. A volunteer group can cover 20 to 30 hydrants in a day, and that, says Asheville Fire Department Division Chief of Safety and Training Barry Hendren, adds up to a big contribution.
“This is a great service project for our local organizations and it’s a huge help to us,” Hendren says. “Each fire company is assigned the upkeep of hydrants in a certain part of the city, and having volunteers help out frees up our firefighters and allows them to take care of other tasks.”
Its not just busywork, Hendren says. A bright coat of paint helps firefighters quickly find hydrants when responding to a fire 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 critical when seconds can mean saved lives or property.
Repainting takes place between April and October and all kinds of groups, including schools, youth groups, scouting troops or civic organizations are invited to volunteer. The AFD provides all the materials and Hendren leads a short training session before volunteers head out with maps of the area they will cover. Hydrants assigned to volunteers are chosen so that volunteers don’t work on major traffic corridors.
For more information or to sign up to volunteer, contact the city’s Volunteer Coordinator Marsha Stickford at (828) 259-5506 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org..
Click below to see a video about volunteer fire hydrant painting made in collaboration with the Girl Scouts of Buncombe County: