Firefighters keep water flowing when hydrants freeze in frigid temps


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The current freezing temperatures are challenging firefighters across the state. With increased house fire risks, firefighters have to make sure they keep the water flowing.

“It is vital to what we do,” said Wichita firefighter Jake Carney, “Continuous water supply is very important.”

That means checking fire hydrants and having a solid backup plan.

“It is as simple as popping off the cap and turning a few bolts and just seeing the rush of water,” Carney said. “We also check to make sure if that valve at the bottom is leaking, or anything like that, and if it is filled with water we go ahead and pump those out hope that in a situation where we get temperatures at this level that will not be filled with water.”

But on days like Tuesday, water freezes fast and sometimes the hydrant does too.

“It certainly happens,” Carney said. “Every once in a while a hydrant will freeze up. They are designed not to do that but as infrastructure ages, those things naturally happen.”

It is a situation Wichita firefighters ran into Tuesday morning, where they ran out of water in a hydrant when it froze while battling a fire in south Wichita.

The fire department sent a 600-gallon tanker out to the scene to provide instant water. That gave firefighters a chance to run a line several hundred feet to another hydrant and still have access to water.

“An extra truck online, basically a water tanker, on its own, and it will be responding to all house fires moving forward especially in the cold weather,” Carney added.

Firefighters say frozen hydrants can occur around a dozen times a year. As for the hydrant, crews say they will just have to wait for warmer temperatures and the hydrant to thaw out.

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