Comprehensive fire hydrant flow rate review

The Village of Winnetka Fire Department recently utilized the
Village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) to complete a
community-wide fire hydrant flow rate review. Accurate flow rate
information is critical to the department for knowing how much water
pressure is available from a hydrant at a given location in the village.

By assigning flow rate information to all the hydrants in GIS, this
information can be easily mapped and used for reference. While the
department flow rate inventory continues to be maintained using other
methods in addition to GIS, such as a hydrant inventory list, being able
to visualize the data spatially reduces the amount of time necessary to
retrieve this valuable hydrant attribute.

To assist in the initial stages of this inventory development
process, the GIS department provided a Village-wide map of fire hydrant
locations with each hydrant color coded by its existing flow rate
information. This preliminary flow rate data was inputted into the GIS
system several years ago from multiple sources, including as-builts and
CAD-drawings. Using this data as a base to work from, the Fire
Department began reviewing the flow rates using a variety of methods
including field checks, existing inventory lists and personal knowledge
of the fire hydrants from the department’s hydrant officer.

While the main focus of the review was to update the hydrant flow
rate information, the Fire Department also used this opportunity to mark
up the map with new hydrants that were missing from the village’s GIS
mapped water system. This information allowed the GIS department to
not only update the existing hydrants but also to improve the accuracy
of the water system as a whole. This system improvement not only
benefits the Fire Department but also the Public Works and Water and
Electric departments, which in turn reference the Village utility
information in their day to day business processes.

With the review complete, the Fire Department now has a quick
reference map for checking both the location and flow rate information
for each hydrant in the village. It also provides the department with
an easy-to-use, effective device for providing additional updates to the
GIS Department in the event of future changes to the system.

By combining the existing Village hydrant inventory resources with
the spatial components of GIS, the village now has a more robust flow
rate reference tool. Improving the capability of the department to
determine water pressure information for a given hydrant improves its
ability to assist the village residents when responding to a fire
emergency. Overall, it is easy to see how the GIS Department and Fire
Department were able to work side by side to improve the accuracy of the
water utility infrastructure that they had mapped in the GIS and what
the village staff accesses on a daily basis.