The reflectors found on many Hudson Valley fire hydrants do much more than just help firefighters find them in the dark.

You may have noticed these reflective markers affixed to the outlets of fire hydrants in your neighborhood. What you may not have realized is that these markers come in different colors, and those colors tell firefighters some pretty important information.

After looking around the Hudson Valley this week I found both green and orange hydrants located less than 100 feet from each other. I wondered why there were two hydrants so close to each other and then noticed that they both had different color reflectors.

After doing some research, it turns out that those colored reflectors tell firefighters just how effective the hydrant will be in putting out a fire. According to, the colors have a lot to do with the elevation of the hydrant and the amount of water that can flow from it.

Hydrants have to pump out water quickly enough to extinguish a growing fire. The flow of water coming from the hydrant is measured in gallons per minute. A residential area needs a hydrant that can supply 1,000 to 1,500 gallons per minute. Less water might not be enough to combat flames if a whole house becomes engulfed in fire.

For this reason, fire departments check the flow of hydrants and mark them accordingly. Hydrants that have a red marker only supply water at a rate of fewer than 500 gallons per minute. This is inadequate for use in an actual firefighting situation. Hydrants marked in orange will pump water at 500 to 1,000 gallons. This is only considered "marginally adequate."

If you see a green marker on your fire hydrant, that means it's suitable for residential areas, pumping out the required 1,000 to 1,500 gallons of water per minute. In industrial settings, you may see hydrants that are marked with blue. This indicates that the hydrant will pump over 1,500 gallons per minute.

So, you may want to check the hydrants in and around your neighborhood to see if there's enough water available if the unthinkable would ever happen to your home. Having a hydrant that's either green or blue may give you a bit more peace of mind. If the hydrants around your home are only orange or red, you may want to check with your local fire department to find out if they have a pumper truck that can transport water from other areas, or what their plan would be for fighting a fire at your house.

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