Petal, Hattiesburg fire departments conduct fire hydrant tests

By STAFF REPORTS,

Petal residents may have noticed various fire hydrants gushing throughout the city over the past two weeks or so.

It’s the result of annual flow testing conducted by the Petal Fire Department, who check each hydrant in the city to make sure the hydrants are being supplied with enough water and at the proper pressure. This year’s testing began April 15 and is expected to run until May 31. 

Hattiesburg isn’t far behind. Testing of the city’s hydrants started May 1, and will run until every fire hydrant has been tested.

“Some of the hydrants have an individual valve, and some of them have a valve that covers a loop of hydrants on a main system,” Fire Chief Joe Hendry said. “So we want to make sure the valves are open if they’ve been down for service, and the guys turn them back on.

“We want to make sure how much water we’ve got – we’ll know from year to year if we’ve had changes in certain areas. So that’s what we’re doing, is making sure that they’re operable and that we’ve got adequate water.”

Hendry said because of the hours the testing will be conducted, residents shouldn’t see much of an impact on their water pressure or other water-related services.

“We’ll be doing it during the day, when most people won’t be at home,” he said. “Early morning and late afternoon – when people are home showering or washing clothes – they might notice a little difference if we open a hydrant right there adjacent to their home or somewhere on that grid. But it shouldn’t bother them, and what we do is open each hydrant before we ever put our gauges and flow meter on there. 

“We open it slowly and let it run until the water is totally clear, so if there’s any sedimentation or any residual sediment in that area, it’ll flush them out. We don’t put the gauge on until it’s clean and opened completely, because the more water you’ve got flowing, the more turbulence you’ve got coming through that main and that hydrant itself. So we don’t want to stir up sedimentation any more than we have to.”

After the testing is complete, fire department staff will re-paint the hydrants based on a color-coded system. Within the city limits, hydrants will be painted yellow, with the colors of the outlets and bonnets dependent on gallon flow: green for more than 1,000 gallons, orange for 500-1,000 gallons and red for less than 500 gallons.

“Out in Barrontown – we have a good number of hydrants that are on Barrontown Utility – we’ll paint those red, the entire hydrant, to indicate that they are Barrontown,” Hendry said. “All we do is flow and check those annually, and if service needs to be done on them, Barrontown takes care of those.”

Hattiesburg Chief Communications Officer Samantha McCain said residents in testing areas may encounter blocked roads or traffic detours during this time, as well as low water pressure or discolored water. These are the typical side effects of hydrants being flushed. 

 If a resident experiences loss of service or an elongated time of low pressure or discolored water, please call 601-545-4500.

 A full schedule of test sites by week is currently being developed and will be released shortly.

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