Chris Schulz Published

Fire Hydrant Task Force Publishes Proposed Rules

A red fire hydrant sprays water out of a fixture. The hydrant is in front of a green field cast in shadow. Farther in the background is a road in sunlightkarenkh/Adobe Stock

A new set of proposed rules for the maintenance of fire hydrants in the state has been published for review. 

The Public Service Commission’s Fire Hydrant Maintenance and Testing Task Force filed the final version of its proposed rules Monday.

The state’s first rules for overseeing the integrity of fire hydrants include requiring that all fire hydrants be inspected annually and that they be tested for an adequate flow of water at least every five years. Inspections are also required after hydrant use or reported damage. 

Public hydrants must be marked to indicate their gallons-per-minute capacity using a color-coded system.

The rules also require utilities to maintain a written program for the inspection of hydrants, and to submit maintenance and quality reports to the commission annually. 

The commission launched an investigation into the state’s hydrant infrastructure a year ago after firefighters responding to a fire in Charleston were unable to find a functioning hydrant. As part of its investigation, the commission required all 301 of the state’s utilities that own fire hydrants, or that serve private fire hydrants, to report certain information including the number of hydrants owned or serviced, their age and maintenance schedules. Only half of utilities responded in the allotted time, but ultimately the commission received the necessary information, resulting in a report on the status of fire hydrants throughout the state in January.

The task force and its rule-making authority was created after Gov. Jim Justice signed House Bill 5617 in March and was tasked with adopting national standards for fire hydrants in the state. 

The rules must be finalized before taking effect, and any member of the task force may file comments in the next 30 days.

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