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8 Ways GIS Improves Fire Hydrant Assessments

Many utilities audit or check their fire hydrants on a scheduled basis. In addition, fire depart­ments commonly check hydrants to ensure they function properly. Most of these activities don’t make it back into a utility’s business system. Also, they fall to leverage the opportunity to collect-and upload to a geographic Information system (GIS)-valuable Information that can lead to increased productivity and improved decision making by qualified personnel.

A wealth of valuable data can be collected by trained and properly equipped hydrant assessment crews.

GIS also provides powerful spatial anal­ysis that allows water utilities to effec­tively solve problems and make better decisions. Consider the following GIS supported hydrant maintenance tips:


Safety. Documenting field assessments via a GIS database can result in reduced out-of-service (OOS) fire hydrants. In some cases, lower insurance rates can result from accurate documentation of a proactive fire hydrant maintenance program.

Reduced OOS Hydrants. All repair requirements can be uploaded to a GIS and work orders generated via the utility’s work order management system (comput­erized maintenance management system). Repair limes can be greatly improved, and OOS hydrants can be prioritized as urgent.

Efficiency. Repairs can be grouped on a map by type or model to help repair crews work more efficiently.

Customer Service. Low flow rates can be mapped to indicate potential for closed valves or severely tuberculated water mains. Closed valves lead to poor water quality, low pressure, and reduced firefighting capacity.

Inventory Management. Most utilities have multiple makes and models of hydrants. Documenting manufacturer, model, year, and valve operator size helps man­age part inventories for repairs.

Location. Hydrants that aren’t included in a utility’s GIS database can be eas­ily added to increase system information accuracy. Fire hydrant isolation valves can also be assessed and added to the mapping system. It’s important to know if a hydrant isolation valve is available before planning certain hydrant repairs or replacements.

Mapping. Global Positioning System locations can be used to create “living” Web map applications so utilities transition away from old-school printed “static” maps. Web maps can provide cur­rent, accurate information to field crews and crew productivity.

Water Quality. Turbidity can be tested and documented during the assessment process. Testing for suspended particles in the water and documenting time for flow to dear can assist in troubleshooting. These actions can help operators identify areas to be targeted for more frequent flushing or unidirectional flushing.

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