New York cracks down on fire hydrant abuse

Educating deprived communities about water conservation has seen a cut in the number of reported fire hydrant abuses in New York City.

The city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been running the Hydrant Education Action Team (HEAT) for the past three years.

It is proving successful in cutting the numbers of reported abuses of fire hydrants, which are often used by residents to cool down during the hot summers.

In 2008 the city saw, in the Inwood and Washington Heights neighbourhoods, a fall of 34% in the number of complaints from 2007.

Fire hydrants can be legally opened by people to cool off, but only with the use of ‘spray caps’ supplied by fire stations, opening them any other way damages it.

Heat works with five street teams of peer-led young people who explain the dire effects of hydrant abuse and how New Yorkers can safely and appropriately use hydrants during summer months.

The purpose of HEAT is to educate community residents about the problems surrounding the illegal use of fire hydrants.

The New York City Fire Department’s, fire commissioner, Nicholas Scoppetta, said: “All you have to do to use a hydrant properly and safely if you want to cool off is visit your local firehouse and ask for a spray cap.”

The teams will cover Inwood and Washington Heights in Manhattan, Highbridge, Concourse, Kingsbridge Heights and University Heights in the Bronx and Bushwick in Brooklyn.

Luke Walsh

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie