It is important for fire hydrants to be well marked so that they can be found quickly by fire fighters both day and night. Most hydrants are painted red, yellow or another easily seen color and placed where they can be spotted and accessed easily in the daytime. But at night, paint, which does not reflect, provides very little visibility. This is where reflective products come in. For hydrants, there are two products that make them more visible and easier for fire fighters to find. These are reflective road markers in blue, and reflective tape in a color that matches the GPM water flow of the hydrant.
Reflective road markers are normally placed on the roadway, perpendicular from a fire hydrant. For marking fire hydrants, the markers are always blue. If a hydrant is on a corner, then two blue markers are used. These reflective raised pavement markers are easy to see in the daytime, and reflect brightly at night. So as a fire truck come down a road towards a fire, they will be able to see where the nearest hydrant is quickly and easily.
Reflective tape on the actual fire hydrant is used to make the actual hydrant visible to fire fighters. But it serves a different purpose as well, that of designating the GPM flow or water output of the hydrant. Standard flow rates and colors of tape are as follows –
- Blue – over 1,500 gallons per minute (gpm)
- Green – 1000 to 1,499 gpm.
- Orange – 500 to 999 gpm.
- Red – less than 500 gpm.
When hydrants are marked with retro reflective colored tape that matches the flow rate, it makes it easy for fire fighters to see the hydrant at night, and to know which fittings to use for it. A 1 inch wide tape is normally about right for the widest part of the hydrant at the bottom of the bonnet. The rim where the top and bottom bolt together. For long sight distance, we recommend V82 tapes by Oralite. They reflect at over 1000 candela’s for white. This is the brightest reflective film that I know of. On the other end of the spectrum is an engineer grade type one by Nikkalite. White in this class of film reflects at 75 candelas. It is less expensive and conforms better. For close up applications where distance is not an issue, engineer grade is fine, for long distance applications, V82 is more appropriate. We have several tapes in between these two that are also fine.
Steven Cole (Economics, MBA – University of West Florida , Business & Innovation – Stanford University) 25 years of experience in the reflective safety business. Specializing in vehicle accident and rear end collision reduction through increased visibility.