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Garden Fire Hydrant.
A real fire hydrant for your backyard? This may seem to be unusual and it is fair to say that it is. This short article is not about the cute little plastic, terra cotta or resin ornament that that can be purchased in the dog store. That type of fire hydrant can be knocked over or blow away on a windy day. I'm talking about the real McCoy, a 150-200 pound (68-91 kg) cast iron fire hydrant that at one time was the best friend of all neighbourhood dogs. So, let me explain how to obtain a FREE FIRE HYDRANT and how to prepare it for display in your backyard.
Where to look for a free real fire hydrant.
Sooner or later old water mains in your city have to be replaced and as a rule the older style hydrants will be pulled out as well. To obtain a free hydrant just look for the city engineer in charge of the project and ask for one. Yes, it is that simple! At one time I collected and restored fire hydrants and had all eight on display in my backyard.
1- Find out what part of the city is receiving new water mains. Usually you can tell by the four inch (10 cm) pipes laid against the curb. At each driveway the pipe is covered with fresh asphalt so it is easier to drive over the pipe. You also can go to your city's web site and look for any city projects on the go or being planned.
2- Ask the city engineer for a old hydrant and tell him/her that you would like to have one for your backyard. It may also help to mention that you are a bit of a history buff and hate to see the old hydrants ending up in the scrap yard. The engineer in turn will then instruct the contractor to save one for you. Make sure that there is at least 12" of barrel below the hydrant's ground line if you are planning to "plant" the hydrant.
3- You will need two strong men for getting the hydrant in your vehicle and backyard.
Preparing for display
1. Movable display: Cut the barrel 2" below where it is marked "ground line". Once cut it can be placed on a patio stone for display. This way you can change locations if desired.
2. Fixed location: Do not cut the barrel, dig a hole, "plant" the hydrant and backfill.
3- Clean the hydrant, remove rust and repaint. The red and yellow hydrant in the picture was hand stripped and repainted. Sandblasting is not recommended as it may damage or remove raised text.
Replacing water main and firehydrant project
1908 Ontario fire hydrant
1918 Grand Rapids, MI. fire hydrant