• The color of the fire hydrant determines how crews have to put out a fire

    By: Jim Spiewak


    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Hydrants painted with a red top put out less than 500 gallons of water per minute. Fire fighters cannot take water directly from a red top hydrant to put out a fire. They must use a series of hoses connecting to a water tanker that then shoots water onto the fire.


    Crews first use the 800 gallons on the arriving fire truck and then wait for a water tanker to show up to finish the job.

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    Shelby County doesn't have a water tanker, instead they have an agreement with neighboring counties to use theirs. Gayle Chrystie’s house, which she’s lived in for 12 years, has a red top hydrant right across the street.


    “Well, it's shocking, it's horrifying,” said resident Gayle Chrystie.


    Chrystie's house is in the area of town near the Eads, Collierville, Shelby County line has a hydrant with a red painted top. 


    Troy Tabor lives in the same neighborhood. He first told MLGW about this 3 years ago. He brought it up again at this week’s MLGW board meeting.


    He told the board he talked to the fire chief who told him the amount of water and pressure coming out of those hydrants was only enough to put out a 1,500 square foot home.The homes in Tabor’s neighborhood are at least 4,000 square feet.


    “The fire chief said it would be nearly next to impossible to put out a house fire of one of our houses,” Tabor told board members.


    The members of the board immediately started asking engineers if the company knows about this. One head engineer replied “yes, we do.”


    The engineer went on to say the fix would include installing 3,100 feet of larger underground piping and it would be expensive. MLGW CEO J.T. Young said, “so, I'll look into that, so I did not know that he talked to the company three years ago but I'll look into that and find out what maybe steps we missed and what we need to do to make things better and again we'll address that,” Young said.


    Tabor says two homes, just across the street on Billy Bryant Drive, caught fire several years ago. Leaving neighbors worried their house could be next.


    “I have pets in the house, it would be devastating, that's home,” Chrystie adds.


    The fire department did not return requests for how many of these red top hydrants they service. MLGW says the pipes were laid in 1999, around the same time these homes were built.

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