Southern Brooklyn

Need To Cool Off? That’s Fine. Just Don’t Illegally Open Fire Hydrants, Says DEP

A johnny pump brings relief to the 'hood on a hot summer day. Photo by Brandon Barron
A johnny pump brings relief to the ‘hood on a hot summer day. Photo by Brandon Barron

As we all slog through our first oppressive heat wave of the season, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sent out a notice reminding all New Yorkers that opening fire hydrants without the spray caps as a means of cooling off is illegal, wasteful, and dangerous.

We previously published a list of cooling centers in our area if the heat and humidity become unbearable and you need to cool off legally.

According to a release circulated by DEP, “Illegally opened hydrants can lower water pressure and put lives at risk if there is a fire. Children can also be at serious risk, because the powerful force of an open hydrant without a spray cap can knock a child down, causing serious injury.”

From the release:

The unauthorized opening of New York City fire hydrants often spikes during heat waves. Opening a hydrant without a spray cap lowers water pressure and can hinder firefighting by reducing the flow of water to hoses and pumps. The reduction of water pressure resulting from illegally opened hydrants can also cause problems at hospitals and other medical facilities. Opening a hydrant illegally can result in fines of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to 30 days, or both.

Hydrants can be opened legally if equipped with a City-approved spray cap. One illegally opened hydrant generally releases more than 1,000 gallons of water per minute, while a hydrant with a spray cap releases 20 to 25 gallons per minute. Spray caps can be obtained by an adult 18 or over, free of charge, at local firehouses.

New Yorkers are urged to report illegally opened fire hydrants to 311 immediately. DEP has additional staff on call today to respond to reports of illegally opened fire hydrants.

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of water each day to more than nine million residents, including eight million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants.

For more info, visit, like the DEP on Facebook , or follow them on Twitter.

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