A fire hydrant without water may seem a contradiction, but there’s one in front of the Collinsville, Connecticut fire station where I served for 26 years. It has no piping and it’s not connected to any supply source. Rather than putting out fires, it stands as an emblem of the fire service, proudly reminding us of a critical tool used to save lives and property. It illustrates the importance of hydrants, not just as practical instruments of firefighting technology, but as symbols of all that is good in fighting fire.
I recently discovered what can only be described as a garden of fire hydrants at the Watch Hill Fire Department in Rhode Island. Surrounding a couple picnic tables and gathered along the outside wall of the station were well over a hundred fire hydrants in every imaginable color from shades of the more common yellows, reds, and greens, to violet, orange, pink, and gold. There was even a hydrant painted like a Dalmatian. Some had both large steamer valves as well as smaller spuds, others with just spuds alone. The barrels were rounded, squared or faceted, the caps domed or a bit flattened, plain or fluted. The spot was as colorful and beautiful as a plot of flowers.