Why is a fire hydrant sometimes called a “fire plug?”
The above ground apparatus you see along streets and in neighborhoods is a fire hydrant, not a fire plug. The term fire plug actually dates back to the 1800s when water mains were made of hollowed wood logs. The water main was clearly marked so people would not dig near the main and cause a leak.
When the fire department needed water, they would dig down to the main and drill a hole in the wooden pipe and place a hand pump in the hole to pump water out to use on the fire. Once the fire was extinguished, the hole in the water main was sealed with a wooden “plug” that was tapered to fit the hole tightly. Then, they would cover the water main back up with dirt and mark the spot in case there was a need to remove the “plug” to extinguish another fire in that area.
Trussville area fire hydrants are “dry hydrants,” which means there is no water in the hydrant until it is used. To access water, the firefighter connects a hose to the hydrant. Then, a special tool called a hydrant wrench is used to turn the nut on top of the hydrant to reach the water main about 3’ to 6’ below ground.
Thankfully, today’s fire hydrants are much easier to access in the event of an emergency. They are an efficient and effective means for delivering high quantities of water and play a crucial role in keeping our communities safe.