Things to Do with Fire Hydrants When It's Hot

Keeping cool with the city's emergency water supply: Not as illegal as you thought

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It's still summer, and it's still hot, and the forecast is for things to just get warmer and sticker. It would be great to go for a dip, but a lot of us don't have pools or even yards in which to set up the sprinkler. Of course, it's a classic scene to have a fire hydrant spewing water onto a city street corner. It's also dangerous, New York City Environmental Protection reminded folks today, because opening a hydrant can lower water pressure for the circuit it's on. But those fire hydrants are starting to look pretty good, illicit or no. Besides, there are ways to have fun with hydrants that won't bring down the wrath of the city, or risk burning down your block.

Ask the fire department to open one: This is probably different from city to city, but we were shocked that the idea is even out there: If you ask nicely at a New York firehouse, they'll open a hydrant for you to play around in. The blog Brokelyn went and talked to a firefighter about it. We suggest you call your own department and see what they can do.

If you want a hydrant open, we usually open one per block. The issue we have with too many hydrants open, it drops the water pressure, so if we do have a fire, we won’t have enough water. Usually, if you want, you can come to any fire house, we have a form you fill out. You show us your picture ID, and we give you a sprinkler cap. Without a cap, the hydrant can lose over a thousand gallons a minute. With a cap, we save a lot of water.

Have it for dinner: Flickr user missmaya figured out a really simple way to turn a hydrant into a table. You just get that piece of wood and cut out the middle. Pretty self-explanatory. Just try to hose off the dog urine, and remember to get out of the way if the fire department comes.

Try it with a shower head: This is way less legitimate (read: It is illegal), but the visual is so priceless we couldn't resist. Boing Boing found the photo from Clayton Cubitt. This guy hooked a shower head up to a Brooklyn fire hydrant. Actually, since it's got a head like a sprinkler, at least this won't drain the pressure from the system. Still, don't do it.

Take a nice drink: The fire hydrant drinking fountain actually made it to the Wall of Hacks at MIT, courteously documented by Flickr user Wally Gobetz. Just make sure you don't put your face in front of it first.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.