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Fire Hydrant Flow Testing and Maintenance

Keep Fire Hydrants Clear of Snow & Weeds

The City of Birmingham currently has 840 fire hydrants in the city.  These hydrants are valuable assets to the Fire Department for fire extinguishment.  As a structure fire doubles in size approximately every 30 seconds, accessing fire hydrants quickly is paramount to life safety and property conservation.  During the winter, hydrants are at times found to be completely covered in snow from snow plows, snow shovels, etc.  This situation can create a delay in accessing a water supply to extinguish a fire. 

Birmingham’s City Ordinance, Chapter 98, Section 66, Subsection (a) states that “snow shall be removed from a minimum three foot area surrounding all fire hydrants to within six inches from the ground”.  Also, City Ordinance Chapter 98, Section 68 (a) states “If any owner shall neglect to clear or maintain the sidewalk adjoining his lot and around all fire hydrants, he shall be guilty of a violation of this chapter”.

Please help the Birmingham Fire Department by keeping hydrants clear of snow, weeds, etc.   Questions concerning hydrant access situations can be addressed by contacting the fire department at:  (248) 530-1906.


Fire Hydrant Flow Testing

In May of each year, the Birmingham Fire Department conducts an annual flow testing of City hydrants throughout the month.

Download the flow testing notice with a map of this year's testing regions.

The Fire Department flows about a third of the Cities hydrants each year. This testing provides the Department with the flow pressure and volume of water that is expected from each hydrant. Additionally, it reveals hydrants with mechanical problems. Flow testing is one of the ways the Department uses to insure that hydrants are operable and give the proper water flow when needed.

Unfortunately, this may cause the water in the immediate test area to appear rust colored. Please be informed of the following facts.

  1. This condition does not pose a health problem.
  2. Normal running of cold water in your home for 15-20 minutes will soon clear up the problem. Do not use hot water. This will prevent rusty water from entering the tank.
  3. If water does not clear after 15-20 minutes, contact the water department at 248.530.1722.
  4. If the rusty water affects your laundry, you may purchase oxalic acid, or commercial products for taking rust out of clothes, from local drug or hardware stores. The clothes can be re-washed, following instructions, and the rust will be removed.

The Fire Department conducts the flow test Monday through Thursday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. We do not flow on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

For more information or questions about flow testing, download Fire Hydrant Flow Testing Frequently Asked Questions or contact the Birmingham Fire Department at 248.530.1900.