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Baby blue is best for our county’s hydrants

Monday, Nov. 30 | By Michael Melkonian
Quinton Adams, 3, checks out a hydrant on Main Street Warrenton at the Halloween Happyfest costume parade. Photo by Adam Goings
The new, bright colors on the county's fire hydrants aren't just for looks.

The colors let firefighters know how much water pressure to expect from different hydrants.

Last year, the county started a project to map and measure flow rates and do minor repairs to hydrants across the county and in Warrenton, according to Chief Thomas Billington, of the Fauquier County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management.

“The color lets first responders know how much flow in gallons per minute can be expected from any particular hydrant,” Billington said. “This year, the town changed all of theirs in order to be uniform.”

The project also added the hydrant locations to 911 dispatchers’ maps. The origin of the system comes from recommendations from the National Fire Protection Association.

Chief Sam Myers of the Warrenton Volunteer Fire Company said his company always tries to meet NFPA standards, but it’s not always easy from a budgeting standpoint.

But for simple things like a hydrant color-coding system, it’s easy, according to Myers. In the code, light blue indicates the most water -- over 1,500 gallons per minute.

“If I pull up and see a hydrant that has a baby blue cap on top of it, I’m like “Hey, we’re in really good shape,’” Myers said.

But water pressure changes based on time. Myers said around morning, when everyone is taking showers, and then again at night, when people are giving kids baths, cooking dinner and doing laundry, more water is pumping through the town pipes. Conversely, it drops during the day.


What do the colors mean?

Light Blue: Class AA - greater than 1,500 gallons per minute
Green: Class A - 1,000 – 1,499 gallons per minute
Orange: Class B - 500 - 999 gallons per minute
Red: Class C - less than 499 gallons per minute

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