Alameda Patch reader Ariane Paul saw a number of fire hydrants in town apparently out of commission and wrapped in black plastic. She asked, "How long until they are working again, and what happens if there's a fire nearby in the meantime?"
Black plastic covering a fire hydrant can mean one of two things, explained Jose Rios of the East Bay Municipal Utility District planning department, who serves as EBMUD's liaison with fire agencies.
It's either an existing fire hydrant that's temporarily out of service and waiting for repair work, or it's a new hydrant waiting to be activated, Rios said.
In either case, the plastic covering alerts the local fire department that the hydrant isn't working.
Fire hydrants are served by dedicated water pipelines, Rios said. When a new pipeline is installed, new hydrants are also put in place. They aren't activated until the pipeline is completed — but old hydrants nearby, served by the old pipeline, still work until the new ones can be turned on.
This week, EBMUD staff are working on a new installation on Lincoln Avenue, Rios said.
Capt. James Colburn of the Alameda Fire Department added that Alameda Fire engines each carry over 2,000 feet of fire hose.
"This hose can be used for long lays from a fire hydrant as needed," Colburn said in an email.
" I do not believe there is any reduction in fire protection to these areas, even if in fact there are several consecutive fire hydrants that are out-of-service, given our ability to adapt because of the amount of fire hose our engines carry."