Milwaukee Water Works urging public not to illegally open fire hydrants

The Milwaukee Water Works is urging the public not to illegally open fire hydrants, which is dangerous and a crime.

According to Milwaukee Water Works, When hydrants are opened illegally, the water rushes out uncontrolled, causing water pressure to drop in the immediate area. The fire department may not have adequate pressure to put out a fire.

According to a press release, those who vandalize hydrants frequently smash and destroy the hydrant. The cost to replace a damaged hydrant is $3,500.

To date in 2017 – since the hot spell began June 10 – there were nine illegally opened hydrants. Thirty-eight were illegally opened in 2016. The five-year average, 2012-2016, was 80. This is a relatively low number compared to a high of 745 in 2006. The turnaround came after a vigorous outreach campaign in the mid-2000s.

Also, the Milwaukee Water Works has installed over 2,800 hydrant-locking McGard devices on hydrants that were previously vandalized and in areas with high repeat hydrant openings. The utility replaces an average of 50 each year.

The penalty for tampering with a hydrant is a $1,000 fine or 30 days in jail. Report tampering and illegal hydrant opening to the Milwaukee Water Works 24-hour Control Center, (414) 286-3710.

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