How to shut off a fire hydrant that's been open full blast all day
May 31, 2007 8:34 PM   Subscribe

Fire hydrant has been open full blast on my street for at least 9 hours. I've called 311 (NYC's non-emergency hotline) three times over these hours; they transfer me to the relevant department, the DEP, who take the report, but nobody comes. Yes I'm positive I'm reporting the correct intersection, and it's ultra-simple to find. Anybody else I can call or anything else I can do anonymously?

We're talking full force water blast from a fire hydrant, making the street into a river for 9+ hrs. It's dangerous because if there's a fire nearby the hydrant system may have issues with its pressure/supply. If you're wondering why this would happen, people will open hydrants to make a blast for kids to run through when it's a hot day. Then usually the cops notice at some point and shut it off. But that would require, you know, police patrols, or anybody caring, which there are different levels of in different neighborhoods. I did also call my local police precinct's non-emergency # after 311 didn't work, and they said call 311.

Note: this is not something I am able to do anything about physically, or otherwise address in a way that would let people know it's me addressing it. Please do not tell me I should "talk with" the people who do this or just go try to screw it back together myself. I have already had some scary retribution-harrassment for the one time I tried to talk face to face about a dangerous thing in the neighborhood. I'm a girl living alone, just trying to stay safe and non-targeted in my own home. In this case, rocking the boat would be perceived as me acting against the kids & the neighborhood. So I am seeking suggestions I can do anonymously. This seems like something that somebody official would be interested in fixing if I knew who/how to call.
posted by sparrows to Law & Government (17 answers total)
to avoid trouble, unless somehow you're being directly effected now, just ignore it

ignoring things seems to be the best way to survive living in urban america
posted by Salvatorparadise at 8:47 PM on May 31, 2007

They might also be flushing the fire hydrants to keep the pipes from rusting. Water can't just sit in pipes year round without "issues" happening, AND/OR if they intend to dig up the pipes anywhere along the route to the nearest main valve so that they can repair it, they would need to drain it first. So they may know about it, and they're taking your report to show that they care, but they're actually the ones that turned the hydrant on.
posted by SpecialK at 8:57 PM on May 31, 2007

I dare say "start a fire", but I think simply calling the fire department is probably the higher road to take.

I would be totally pissed off and frustrated if I were in your place, if that makes you feel any less so.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:00 PM on May 31, 2007

You've done what you're supposed to do, according to the official website. Incidentally, that page also mentions "spray caps," which apparently allow hydrants to be used for cooling without seriously disrupting water flow.

In addition to what SpecialK says about flushing the hydrants, it does now and then happen that a city will deliberately open hydrants during a heat wave. I very much doubt that happened this time, since I'm talking about late July/early August heat waves, not late May.
posted by cerebus19 at 9:21 PM on May 31, 2007

Response by poster: I'm not pissed, just trying to help (believe me, if I were actively pissed about everything like this, I'd just be a little ball of rage all day).

Given that it's the only hydrant I see open of the many nearby, and that it's been open full blast for 10+ hours (and that it sits on a busy street, on what is the busiest & most kid-filled corner during the day), I'd be surprised if it were a planned flush...

I don't see a non-emergency contact for the fire dept. other than 311 (311 is centralized; you tell them your issue & they connect you to the right office rather than giving a direct # for it) but that was a good idea.
posted by sparrows at 9:38 PM on May 31, 2007

I'd try to find the phone number of the local fire station and tell them. The actual number of the actual station to find the actual bloke with the right spanner.
posted by pompomtom at 9:41 PM on May 31, 2007

I don't see a non-emergency contact for the fire dept.

Individual fire stations may have a specific non-emergency contact number. Have you tried looking for the one closest to you?
posted by Jimbob at 9:41 PM on May 31, 2007

I'd just be a little ball of rage all day

haha. I'd pay to see that.
posted by krautland at 9:47 PM on May 31, 2007

n-thing the suggestion to call the non-emergency number for the fire department.

The police department isn't going to care, that's not their area. And DEP doesn't really sound like the right office either. The Fire Department are the ones who can do something about it -- if they want to close it up, it's a simple matter for one guy and a special wrench.

Anyway, I'd give them a call, if you can find the number for the closest station, or if it's really bugging you and you're personable, stop by in person (during the day, they probably take less kindly to random social calls at night) and let them know.

Once you've notified them, I think you can wash your hands of it, having done the responsible thing.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:28 PM on May 31, 2007

Response by poster: It got turned off at 2am (like half an hour after my last talk w/ the DEP).
posted by sparrows at 11:11 PM on May 31, 2007

All things considered, I suspect that an open hydrant need not be the most important thing on a fire crew's worklist.
posted by dhartung at 11:56 PM on May 31, 2007

I'd try stopping by the local firehouse... I think they sometimes go out and shut off hydrants.

Bring cookies...
posted by Jahaza at 5:09 AM on June 1, 2007

Jahaza is 100% correct, and bring cookies for sure!
posted by Cosine at 10:45 AM on June 1, 2007

sparrows, you didn't grow up in NYC, I take it? You met any obligation you might have had by reporting it in the first phone call. They are hearing you, it's just a very big city, and if nobody's bleeding, it can wait.
posted by astruc at 3:58 PM on June 1, 2007

Mod note: A few comments deleted; problem solved, take the giving-a-shit debate elsewhere.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:08 PM on June 1, 2007

Response by poster: The dispatcher (at 212 999 2222) who gives out NYC info such as local numbers for fire and police confirms it's the DEP. The local fire staion doesn't close hydrants and should not be approached to.

Hydrant got opened up again before noon yesterday, has now been open at the same full pressure for 22 hrs. I won't talk about it more here.
posted by sparrows at 6:47 AM on June 3, 2007

yes, don't IGNORE it! Do you know how much water is being wasted by one firehydrant?

Best thing to do is to call your local fire dept. directy.

311 is good for a lot of complaints, but if you want ot resolve an issue fast, you should call the local office if you know the number.

Similar way, you should call the local Precinct if you have a noice complaint, not 311
posted by Allclear123 at 1:43 PM on October 14, 2007

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