We drive by them, avoid parking in front of them but rely on them for the safety of our homes. They are the city's fire hydrants. Typically, out-of-service and historically significant hydrants have been melted down as scrap, with the exception of a few. The picture above was taken in September, 2004, in the Hampton Heath Rd. area when the original cast iron water mains and one barrel piece hydrants were replaced.
The DARLING hydrants, model B-50-B-18, were made in the 1960's by the Darling Valve and Mfg. Co. of Brantford Ont. All but two of the eight hydrants in this picture were badly damaged when they were removed from service and later sold as scrap. The one marked with an X was saved from being melted down by a local hydrant collector.
Fire hydrants are an extremely important part of firefighting. They must be located so that they are easily identified and easily accessible to firefighters. A fire engine can only carry a limited amount of water, so it is vitally important for firefighters to be able to hook the fire engines to the hydrants to supply them with enough water to fight the fire. Fire engines also have a pump that gives the water from the hydrant enough pressure to fill the hoses and helps the firefighters reach the fire.
Burlington's first water works were installed on Elgin Street. Water from Lake Ontario was filtered on the beach and then pumped to the the city. The filters are gone but the original pumphouse is still there. The small building, shown below, is designated and preserved as a historical site.
The 60 x 60 cm. marble plaque from the pumphouse is now displayed at the Burlington Water Purification Plant at 3249 Lakeshore Road. Willis Chipman's* name appears on this plaque and also on a 1909 hydrant. Almost without exception, Burlington fire hydrants were manufactured in Ontario. The Elgin Street hydrants were made in London. Later, hydrants were made in Brantford, while many "modern" hydrants are now made in Milton.
* Willis Chipman was probably Canada's first consulting engineer in private practice. He was deeply involved in what was then known as sanitary engineering, and laid the foundation for standards in drinking water and waste water systems in Canada. He worked on over 50 waterworks and sewage projects in the province.