Fire hydrant painting in Washington is progressing slowly, but Water/Wastewater Superintendent Kevin Quaethem is not complaining.
In September, Quaethem said the work of repainting every hydrant is about 45 percent done. A month later, he said the work was at about 50 percent.
The goal is still to be totally finished by the end of 2017.
One part-time employee, Bryant Rodgers, has been tasked with painting the close to 1,200 hydrants in town. Quaethem said he’s working a bit slower than other employees have in the past, but the quality is improved.
“You really need to go take a look at the fire hydrants,” he said. “Bryant is meticulous. It’s taking him longer to paint than it generally did before, but we’re getting a much better result.”
Quaethem said Rodgers is a retired contractor who works for the city part time. He took a liking to the hydrant painting and that has become his de facto job.
“I’m looking for quality more than quantity and he’s doing a great job,” he said. “He’s the best fire hydrant painter that we have had.”
Late last year, the public works department started on a plan to flow test and repaint each fire hydrant in the city.
Once each hydrant is tested, the tops will be repainted. Unlike the bodies, the tops are color coded depending on fire flow. Blue-topped hydrants are at the top of the list for best flow pressures followed by green, orange and then red.
For the flow test, city crews will be dropping each hydrant down to 20 PSI before performing the test. Quaethem said 20 PSI is the lowest acceptable pressure so the tests will reveal the accurate fire flow of each hydrant.
Quaethem said some tops will be repainted their original colors, while others will be upgraded. Since the last big flow test, lines have been changed and upgraded.
For example, changing a service line from a 4-inch feed to a 6-inch feed will greatly improve the flow and cause previously orange hydrants to now be green.
The color coding is a visual system to help fire department crews know about the water pressure in the area.
Quaethem said the colored hydrants tested at 20 PSI should help give the city a better Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating. The ISO rating helps set insurance rates at businesses and homes.