Fire hydrants

As you go about your daily life you probably pass at least one fire hydrant since there are over 25,000 in the county.
You may be familiar with the yellow marker posts, which look like a H with two numbers above and below. They identify the location and size of the water main supplying the hydrant.

Hydrants are located underground and accessed by a lid usually marked with the letters FH. These covers may be found in the footpath, roadway or in the verge. Marker plates, which look like a H with a number above and below, can be seen fixed to a post, wall or lamp post.

Fire hydrants are used to either supply the water for firefighting or to refill the tank in a fire appliance.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service's duty

We have a statutory duty to take all reasonable measures to ensure there is an adequate supply of water and it is available for use in case of a fire. Maintaining fire hydrants in good working order is very important to our operational response to allow effective fire-fighting activities.

All public fire hydrants are subject to routine inspection and testing carried out by Surrey Fire and Rescue Service. This includes:

Above ground inspection:

The hydrant frame, and cover, and the surrounding surface is checked for damage. The hydrant marker post is checked to see if the information shown is correct and is clearly visible. Any overgrowth is cut back, and the post and lid may require re-painting.

Below ground inspection:

This involves checking the hydrant pit and the hydrant itself. It is checked for leakage; the pit may require clearing of silt or debris which may affect the delivery of water for firefighting purposes. The hydrant is also 'wet tested' to ensure the Hydrant is working properly. They may also be tested for water pressure and flow.

Hydrant marker posts or plates help firefighters to quickly identify the location of fire hydrants; sadly, these occasionally get vandalised or damaged. When missing or obscured, it could waste valuable time in locating a hydrant and could potentially cost lives or increase the amount of damage in a fire.

Your duty

In the event of fire, it is vital that firefighters have access to water supplies quickly. Obstruction of fire hydrants, particularly inconsiderate parking, could place the lives of you, your family, your neighbours and your business continuity at risk.

A person commits an offence if they damage or obstruct a fire hydrant, and is liable to prosecution (Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 section 42). This includes parking where it obstructs a Fire Hydrant and prevents access for firefighting use.

It is illegal to use a fire hydrant to obtain water for purposes other than firefighting (unless authorised by the water authority or other person to whom the hydrant belongs). Unauthorised access to the hydrant pit is not allowed. Those found to be using fire hydrants without the appropriate authorisation are liable to prosecution.

If you have a problems or enquiry about fire hydrants, contact our Water Office by emailing water.office@surreycc.gov.uk.