Why Aren’t All Fire Hydrants Red?

When you imagine a fire hydrant, it’s likely that the color red comes to mind. To firefighters, the hydrant’s color is a thing they’re trained to notice. When responding to a fire, every second counts. That’s why fire hydrants have varying colors that indicate water-flow capabilities, so firefighters can assess the hydrant’s capacity at a glance. The color-coding scheme usually comes into play on the tops and nozzle caps, though it may also show up in the color of the hydrant body as well. The colors indicate the rated water-flow capacity of that particular hydrant:
  • • Red indicates a water-flow capacity of fewer than 500 gallons  per minute (GPM).
  • • Orange indicates a water-flow capacity of 500 to 999 GPM.
  • • Green indicates a water-flow capacity of 1,000 to 1,499 GPM.
  • • Blue indicates a water-flow capacity of 1,500 or greater GPM.
Based on the color, firefighters can determine the appropriate pump operations for that hydrant, and whether a different hydrant would provide better water flow. Some fire-fighting professionals feel that color-coding is no longer relevant since hydrant information is readily accessible on mobile devices. Others maintain that it’s still necessary for conveying information quickly and effectively. Either way, the practice of color coding fire hydrants remains in use in many places and will likely continue for the foreseeable future.