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How to Legally Turn on a City Water Hydrant

Splashing around in front of an open water hydrant is a great way for city kids to cool off--as long as no one is put in danger.


  • Step 1: Visit your local firehouse Stop by your local firehouse and ask them to open a fire hydrant in your neighborhood.
  • TIP: Never open a fire hydrant yourself. Besides being illegal, it puts everyone in the area at risk if a fire breaks out.
  • Step 2: Respect their decision Respect the decision of the firefighters, which will be based on factors like how hot it is, how many children are in that vicinity, and whether other hydrants have already been opened nearby for cooling off purposes.
  • TIP: As a general rule, fire departments won’t open hydrants unless it is over 90° Fahrenheit.
  • Step 3: Get out your suit and flip-flops If permission is granted, get out your bathing suit and flip-flops! A firefighter will open the hydrant and install a sprinkler cap.
  • Step 4: Get there before 6 p.m. Take advantage of the cool spray before 6 p.m., the typical time the fire department returns to shut off the hydrant.
  • FACT: Philadelphia had the first aboveground fire hydrant, in 1801.

You Will Need

  • Permission from the fire department
  • A bathing suit
  • Flip-flops

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