In the United States, fire hydrants have been in use since the 1800’s. Prior to the hydrants, fire brigades utilized a different system which demanded firefighters to stand in line and pass down a literal water bucket from the source of water all the way to the actual fire. This was a slow process that was unable to extinguish fires quickly, leaving devasting damages. Today there are two basic types of fire hydrants: Wet Barrel systems and Dry barrel systems.
Wet Barrel Fire Hydrant Systems have a plethora of advantages. These are the most common where freezing temperatures are not an issue. Simply put, “wet” systems always have water flowing and supplied inside the barrel from the underground piping system. Subsequently, when a firefighter installs their hose to the valve, they are immediately supplied with water in case of emergencies. When constructed well, fire hydrants have a life expectancy of over 100 years!
Dry Barrel Fire Hydrant Systems are the most common where temperatures are known to be freezing. It’s common knowledge that water expands when it freezes, so the dry barrel is intended to combat just that! Exactly how it sounds, “dry” barrels do not have water in the above ground barrel but instead use a valve that holds the water pressure below ground. The Earth’s below surface temperature is a steady 50 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a perfect climate to prevent underground pipes from bursting.