NYC Heat Program: Fire Hydrant Abuse Prevention

NYC Heat Program: Fire Hydrant Abuse Prevention: The New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) 2019 Hydrant Education Action Team (HEAT) program is a fire hydrant abuse prevention campaign that deploys teams of teens hired through the Department of Youth and Community Development’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) to inform New Yorkers about the dangers of illegally opening fire hydrants. The program educates residents on how the hydrants can be opened legally if equipped with a City-approved spray cap. The spray cap releases only 20 to 25 gallons per minute, ensuring adequate water pressure and reducing the risk that a child could be knocked over and injured by the force of the water. Spray caps can be requested by an adult 18 or over, free of charge, at local firehouses. 

New York City residents have made an extensive tradition of “uncapping” fire hydrants as a means of cooling down during hot summer months. Unfortunately, illegally opening fire hydrants can waste 1,000 gallons of water per minute and reduce water pressure in surrounding neighborhoods. Because strong water pressure is critical for fighting fires, illegally opening fire hydrants can also put communities more at risk when battling fires during the hottest months of the year. The HEAT program’s purpose is not to stop the summer tradition of keeping cool with fire hydrants, but to advocate for a legal, environmentally conscious way of utilizing the cooling power of fire hydrants through spray caps. New Yorkers throughout the city can request spray caps, free of charge, at local firehouses.

The HEAT program is run in partnership with the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBRO), and deploys four teams of 10-12 young adults to distribute literature, posters, and other informational materials about fire hydrant safety. The teams, given paid work experience through SYEP, educate city residents on how to stay safe during high temperatures, while also providing leadership development opportunities for teenagers. The outreach campaign focuses on neighborhoods in northern Manhattan and the Bronx, which have seen historically high rates of unauthorized fire hydrant use.

Publication Date: July 26, 2019

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