September 24, 2020
The City of South Bend has begun hydrant flow testing more than 950 fire hydrants. Flow testing will ensure adequate water supply and pressure is delivered to the hydrants when they are needed in a fire emergency. As a corollary benefit, this is one factor that can help improve the City’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating. The ISO rating evaluates a community’s ability to handle fires. The City is currently at a 2 (with 1 being the highest). A classification of 1 could help reduce homeowner insurance premiums.
Flow testing and data collection is conducted to make sure hydrants are functioning correctly and valves are working properly. It also measures the amount of water available from an individual hydrant. By determining the amount of water pressure, it allows firefighters to know if there’s adequate amount of water in a hydrant to extinguish a fire during an emergency. It will reveal hydrants in the system that may need repair or mechanical and performance issues with water mains, as well as other correctable factors that may cause poor flow in a hydrant.
“Firefighters rely on hydrants within the city to provide the needed water to complete our job,” said Carl Buchanon, chief of the South Bend Fire Department. “Flow testing not only helps maintain the mechanical components of the hydrants during emergency operations, but it also enhances the City’s ISO rating.”
During testing, residents may see a temporary drop in water pressure and may experience discolored water. If residents experience discolored water, they should run cold-water faucets at full stream until the water runs clear again.
The City has contracted with Shambaugh & Son to conduct hydrant flow testing, which is expected to go through the end of November. The City began flow testing in 2019 with plans of testing all 4,656 public hydrants by the end of 2023.