Tech In Plain Sight: Fire Hydrants

You probably see them so often that you don’t even notice they are there. Fire hydrants are one of those things that aren’t interesting until you need them, but then they are of paramount importance. You sometimes hear them called fireplugs and it made us wonder what was a plug about it. Perhaps it was because that’s where you plug in your hose? Turns out, no. The real story is much stranger. Not to mention, did you know that there are even “dry” fire hydrants?

Apparently, in the 16th century, water mains were made of wood. When there was a fire, a team would dig the cobblestones out to expose the wooden mains and cut a hole to make anĀ ad hoc well to fill buckets or to pump. Of course, after the fire, you had to repair the mains and that was done with a plug. The city would keep a record of plugs so that if a fire was nearby in the future, you could just “pull the plug” instead of making a new hole.

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