News Release

SLC Public Utilities and Fire Departments go with the flow – testing water in hydrants to ensure emergency preparedness

SALT LAKE CITY – Fire hydrant flow testing has recently started in Salt Lake City through a joint effort between the Salt Lake City Fire Department and the Salt Lake City Public Utilities Department. Testing will be completed by the end of Summer 2017.

As snowpack and projected water supply allow, the city undertakes hydrant testing to ensure that water lines, water flow, water quality and hydrants in the water system are in optimal condition for emergency fire response. With the above average snowpack this year, it is an optimal time to do this important testing.

In our testing process hydrants are opened, water is flowed until it clears and the hydrant is then slowly closed to prevent damage to the water mains.

According to Chief Karl Lieb, the testing is important because any system that isn’t routinely inspected can be at risk for failure.

“When we roll up to a fire, we have confidence that the hydrants are working, and there is ample supply for us to quickly do our jobs,” Lieb said. “Proactively testing the system helps eliminate any unnecessary complications in an incident.”

Laura Briefer, director of the public utilities department, says hydrant testing also supports the department’s water quality protection and infrastructure monitoring efforts. “Hydrant testing allows water to be flushed through water mains to provide invaluable data related to water quality and the overall health of the city’s water distribution system,” Briefer said. “It makes sense for our Departments to coordinate these hydrant testing efforts for water conservation and efficiency purposes,” she added.

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) recommends flow testing all areas at least every 10 years, and the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) requires flow testing of underground and exposed piping at least once every five years. Salt Lake City chooses to do the testing more frequently, if water supplies are sufficient to do the testing.