Louisville crews work to winterize fire hydrants - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville crews work to winterize fire hydrants

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- They're the first line of defense in any fire. This winter, crews work around the clock to make sure the city's fire hydrants are ready to go at any moment.

They're life-saving machines in any fire. On any other day, the bright fixtures practically go unnoticed. "I've been doing this almost 15 years. So, it's pretty amazing that people don't know that we own them," said Darren Washburn, a fire hydrant crew leader.

All 24,000 Louisville hydrants are touched at least twice a year. "We have 2,000 of them on our winter list that we actually know that hold water," Washburn said.

The inter-workings of the hydrant and efforts to maintain them go deeper than your line of sight. "What they do, they hold water in the barrel and with the antifreeze in them, that keeps them from freezing," Washburn said.

The Louisville Water Company began before running water. "We had water but it was distributed by horse and buggy so if someone had a fire, they literally had to line people up, fill it from the pump, then pass it down the line to dump it on the fire," said MarySusan Abell, Supervisor of Strategic Communications at Louisville Water Company.

In addition to safe water, the company was created for fire protection. "We work hand-in-hand with the fire departments to make sure that they are in working order at all times because the last thing you want is for the department to arrive at a fire scene and for the hydrant to not work," Abell said.

The life of a hydrant is about 40 years. "I'm in the middle of a fire hydrant graveyard," Abell said.

The graveyard is where old or hydrants hit by traffic come for their final days. "More than you would believe. We fix at least two or three a week," Washburn said.

The unseen work never stops. "People probably pay no attention to fire hydrants until they have to be put in use to put out their own fire," Abell said.

It's also a duty to protect that runs deep. "We just go back to our roots and we stay true to those roots."

To report a water main break, call (502) 436-0779.

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