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What is a fire hydrant?

As you go about your daily life you probably pass at least one fire hydrant as there are over 20,000 in Norfolk alone.

Contrary to popular belief they are not the above ground pillar type hydrants as seen in American films, but are underground.  You may be familiar with above ground yellow marker posts, used to identify the location and size of the water main, however the hydrant is a tap under the road that requires a standpipe to access the water supply.  It is marked with the letters F.H.

Please take care not to park your car above or too close to a fire hydrant as it could be needed in an emergency at any time.

What are they used for?

They are used to either supplement the water supply for fire fighting or to supply/refill the tank in a fire appliance.

The Fire & Rescue Service has a statutory duty to ensure that all reasonable measures are taken to ensure there is an adequate supply of water and to ensure its availability for use in case of a fire.  Therefore ensuring fire hydrants are in good working order is very important.



Example of a Fire Hydrant cover and Hydrant Marker Plate


These covers may be found in the footpath roadway or in the verge.

Marker plates can be seen fixed to a post or wall or lamp post.

Fire Hydrant Maintenance

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service have approximately 20,000 Fire Hydrants spread throughout the county. It is our responsibility to ensure that these Hydrants are kept serviceable and available for use in the event of fire.

Annual Test and/or Inspection

Hydrants shall be subject to an annual test / inspection. The inspection includes:

Above ground inspection

The Hydrant frame, and cover, and the surrounding surface is checked for damage. The hydrant marker post is checked to see if the information shown is correct and is clearly visible. Any overgrowth is cut back and post and lid and kerb may require re-painting.

Below ground inspection

This Involves checking the Hydrant pit and the Hydrant itself. It is checked for leakage, the pit itself may require clearing of silt or debris which may affect the delivery of water for fire fighting purposes. The hydrant is also ‘wet tested’ to ensure the hydrant is working properly. They may also be tested for water pressure and flow. 

More information about Hydrants



Help Us - Reporting a Hydrant defect

Hydrant marker posts or plates help firefighters to quickly identify the location of fire hydrants, sadly these occasionally get vandalised or damaged.  When missing or obscured it could waste valuable minutes in locating a hydrant and could potentially cost lives or increase the amount of damage in a fire.

We encourage contact from the general public in relation to problems or enquiries about Fire Hydrants. Reports of any damaged /leaking Fire Hydrant or related equipment is inspected and repaired as soon as possible.

A  Fire Hydrant marker post is yellow and the manhole lid should be marked with the letters FH . Concrete colour posts with a blue identification plate are the responsibility of the Water Authority.  If you spot a problem please complete the Hydrants defect form or contact 0300 1231165.

Know the law and don’t break it!

It is illegal to use a fire hydrant to obtain water for purposes other than fire fighting, unless authorised by the Water Authority or other person to whom the Hydrant belongs. Unauthorised access to the hydrant pit is not allowed. Persons found to be using fire hydrants without the appropriate authorisation are liable to prosecution.

A person commits an offence if he/she damages or obstructs a Fire Hydrant and is liable to prosecution (Fire & Rescue Services Act Section 42).
Please contact the Water Officer on 0300 1231165  if you are concerned a hydrant is being used illegally.

Think before you Park

In the event of fire, it can be paramount that firefighters have access to water supplies quickly. Obstruction of Fire Hydrants, particularly inconsiderate parking could place the lives of you, your family and your neighbours at risk.

A person commits an offence if he / she damages or obstructs a Fire Hydrant, and is liable to prosecution (Fire & Rescue Services Act Section 42).

Relocating Fire Hydrant Markers

On occasions, Fire Hydrant Markers may need to be relocated.  (For example, when a property owner wishes to remove a boundary wall.)  If you wish to relocate a Hydrant marker, please contact 0300 1231165.

New Developments in Norfolk

When a new development within the county is planned, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service will determine the risk and recommend the number and position of any fire hydrants required. Each hydrant is strategically placed, to ensure the minimum provision is made, whilst delivering the optimum supply of fire fighting water delivered from a mains system. Alternative water supplies are taken into account when assessing the overall requirements.
Please Contact us (0300 1231165) for information, for developments affecting or requiring Fire Hydrants in Norfolk.

Private Fire Hydrants

Private Fire Hydrants are located on private water mains that are not the responsibility of the local Water Company or the Fire and Rescue Service. These are generally located on large sites such as hospitals, military establishments, and industrial estates, but may also be installed to provide cover for specific risk properties. Private Hydrants are the responsibility of the owners/occupiers on whose land they are installed.

Private Hydrants should be installed in accordance with the appropriate British Standards and should be compatible with Fire and Rescue Service equipment.

Where Private Hydrants are installed they should be tested and maintained in good working order by the responsible person(s), especially if  they have been identified  on Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service  Risk File information sheets and identified as a  reliable water source for fire fighting.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service offer a service to maintain and test these private hydrants.  Please contact 0300 1231165 or the contact form below.

For any further information - Contact us

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