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Glad You Asked: Why Aren't All Fire Hydrants Red?

(CBS 58) -- Imagine in your minds eye, a fire hydrant. What color is it? They're not all red. Why are they different colors?

I'm glad you asked!

Milwaukee Fire Department Lieutenant Michael Ball pointed us to a yellow hydrant in Bayview.

"The yellow fire hydrant indicates that the mains are actually running perpendicular to the opening of the fire hydrant." said Lt. Ball.

Ball says about 95% of the city's hydrants are indeed red. Some are red with a blue ring that says 'dead end.'

"That's important for the firefighters because, number one, the pressure is going to be reduced there at that hydrant." said Ball. "Number two, a lot of times there is going to be extra debris, so we need to make sure we really flush that hydrant well."

In other parts of the state and the country, the color of the hydrant top refers to the pressure available to firefighters.

According to National Fire Protection Association guidelines, hydrant tops should be colored red (less than 500 gallons per minute), to orange (500-999 gpm) to green (1000-1499 gpm) to blue (more than 1500 gpm).

In most of our Milwaukee metro area, hydrants have good, equal pressure across the board so there is no reason to have a color code system.

However, MFD Lt. Ball says the water department will soon paint the tops of some hydrants green to indicate which hydrants have a larger, 12-inch main and will get more water out, faster during a larger fire.

Have a curious question you'd like answered on the next Glad You Asked? Ask away! If you've always wondered about something ask Mike Curkov on his Facebook page, on Twitter or email him at GladYouAsked@CBS58.com.

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