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Why do so many fire hydrants in Wilmington have orange ‘Out of Service’ bags on them?

Julian March
StarNews
Fire hydrant bagged

A fire hydrant at the intersection of Eighth and Princess streets is covered with a plastic wrapper indicating that it is not in service. (StarNews photo by Paul Stephen)

The bags alert firefighters the hydrant is malfunctioning and will not yield water, said David Hines, a spokesman for the Wilmington Fire Department.

“In the heat of the moment, you don’t want to catch a dry hydrant,” he said.

The fire department typically checks all city fire hydrants twice a year. If the hydrant is malfunctioning or firefighters cannot get full water pressure, it is bagged and firefighters alert the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority the hydrant needs to be serviced.

“Usually it means we can’t get water out of it,” Hines said. “We know this is not the fire hydrant that we want to hook up to if there’s a fire in the area.”

Hines said it is not too common for a hydrant to malfunction, and those would make a very small percentage of total hydrants.

“Wilmington is also blessed to have a lot of hydrants,” he said. “There’s probably one on the next corner and we’ll just use it.”

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