Smart Hydrant –
Fire hydrants are vital fire-fighting emergency infrastructure. The primary purpose of fire hydrants is to serve as a water source in the event of a fire. Whenever there is a fire, the caps that cover the fire hydrant’s outlets is removed, and a fire hose or pump suction hose is connected to the outlet. A special wrench or key is then used to open the hydrant's valve on the top to allow flow from the outlets.
Water hydrants appear as standalone structures in the middle of nowhere, so where does the water come from in a fire hydrant? Actually, the accessible portion of the hydrant is part of a system that is connected to drinking water systems through vast networks that ensure that the hydrant is always able to supply water. As vital emergency infrastructure, fire hydrants are installed to be highly visible and accessible. However, this accessibility also exposes them to a number of challenges. The main problems are unauthorized consumption and illegal hydrant use. These might be activities such as drawing water from a fire hydrant, the use of fire hydrants for pool filling, meter tampering, and many more.
Unauthorized consumption and illegal use of fire hydrants
As earlier stated, the illegal use of fire hydrants comes in many forms. People often ask, "is it illegal to use a fire hydrant or to take water from fire hydrants?" In most cases, it is illegal to even open fire hydrants – that is, either removing the cap or opening the valve without special permission from the local municipality. So why do people open fire hydrants at all? Although it is illegal, people often use municipal hydrants for personal purposes. These include:
- Filling pools from fire hydrants
- Using water from hydrant to water lawns (irrigation)
- Using a fire hydrant for personal use at home
- Taking water from a fire hydrant to fill tanks or as a water source for construction sites
- Using water for cooling in hot weather.
Other forms of unauthorized consumption are:
- Tampering with the hydrant in any way
- Vandalizing hydrants
- Meter tampering.
Dangers of illegal use of fire hydrants
Unauthorised consumption and illegal fire hydrant use can have severe consequences. Some of these are explored below:
- Water stolen from fire hydrants is not billed and results in expenses for the municipality, which pays for the water from fire hydrants. Stolen water leads to a negative effect on the water balance and increases non-revenue water levels.
- Improper use of open fire hydrants by non-authorised persons can contaminate the water distribution systems as fire hydrants are connected to drinking water systems.
- Hydrants are created specifically for emergency purposes and so using them for other domestic or non-domestic purposes often results in wastage. Depending on the class of hydrant, the flow rate ranges from about 500 GPM to over 1500 GPM. Applying this flow rate in a domestic application such as cooling off or drinking will result in wastage.
- Open fire hydrants also pose a safety risk as the pressure from the flow can push objects and children into roadways.
- While they are built to be rugged, illegal tampering can damage hydrants. This can lead to leakages and costly repair. Also, to effectively serve their primary purpose, hydrants have to be in perfect working condition at all times.
The next question, having outlined the dangers of illegal consumption, is how can it be curbed? In addition to enforcement and citizen cooperation, monitoring/detection is one of the most effective ways to prevent illegal use. Monitoring and detection involve observing and having access to real-time data on the fire hydrants.
However, cities usually have numerous fire hydrants. For example, Vienna has over 12.000 hydrants in use. So, how can all these be monitored simultaneously? The answer: smart hydrants. Fire hydrants are mechanical devices, and you may be wondering what it takes to make them smart. This is where Hawle.live CAP comes in.
How Hawle.live CAP makes your hydrants smart
In Europe, all fire hydrants are equipped with protection caps that cover the outlet when it's not in use. Hawle.live CAP is a cap with fully integrated sensors, and a data communication system. They are installed, in the same way as traditional caps, on hydrant outlets of any manufacturer and perform the primary function of covering the hydrant outlet. However, they are capable of numerous additional functions that collectively result in a smart hydrant. Hawle.live CAP is available not only as a Storz cap, but can also be adapted to regional standards that are not a Storz coupling type. Hawle.live CAP can also be applied on underground fire hydrants.
Hawle.live CAP contains rotation and water contact sensors. As soon as the cap is rotated (to be opened) or comes in contact with water, the sensors trigger an alarm that indicates that the fire hydrant is activated or open. When this happens, the Hawle.live CAP sends an encrypted data code through a cloud to a server. This communication may be carried out via a GSM network, or other data transmission networks, such as LoRaWAN and LTE-M. The data is decoded at the server, converted into a suitable API, and sent to the frontend for visualization, which could be done in the Hawle.live MAP - a smart fire hydrants map. This alerts the owner to the unauthorised use of a fire hydrant. There's also the option of sending the data to customer-specific software. An Hawle.live CAP-equipped smart hydrant also sends data on hydrant usage, history, etc.
What is Hawle.live MAP?
Hawle.live MAP is the frontend server from Hawle Service. It provides users with comprehensive data on all connected fire hydrants and water supply infrastructure, such as control valves, air valves, etc. It can also be used as a fire hydrant map only, as it displays the location of every fire hydrant the user owns. Hawle.live MAP is accessible via an app or a web browser.
Hawle.live MAP does not just serve as a map for fire hydrants. It is a general online platform for water supply operators. It also shows control valves, gate valves, extinguishing tanks, wells, and the rest of our digital products, including details. You can access data and alerts on all registered products through the platform. These details include hydrant location, usage alerts, history, consumption statistics, and inspection and maintenance reports. It is also used for Hawle.live CAP administration & commissioning, accessing technical information, and management. In summary, it is the administrative user interface for monitoring and tracking installed products. Hawle.live MAP is our digital product available on a subscription basis, via different subscription packages that provide different levels of access. However, when you buy an Hawle.live CAP, you get free Bronze access to the map. Depending on the package, you have different additional options.
Benefits of having Hawle.live CAP-equipped smart hydrants
Hawle.live CAP offers numerous benefits as fire hydrant caps. Some of these are explored below.
It gives monitoring and detection capabilities to the user. This helps to significantly reduce your non-water revenue levels and the menace of illegal tampering and consumption. It also provides real time alerts during events.
Installation and activation are effortless as Hawle.live CAP can simply be installed like normal Storz caps. Via Hawle.live MAP, you can easily register the installation.
Smart hydrants last longer and save money on maintenance costs as they provide intelligent inspection and maintenance reports that help make informed cost-saving decisions.
With Hawle.live CAP, you do not have to replace the entire hydrant to make it “smart.” Even older models can be retrofitted.
Hawle.live MAP saves hydrant history and statistics in your user account.
Hawle.live CAPs allow you to seamlessly monitor numerous smart hydrants simultaneously in a comprehensive network.
Smart hydrants are the most effective solution to unauthorised consumption and illegal hydrant use. Ordinary hydrants can be fitted with Hawle.live CAPs, which also provide administrative monitoring and intelligent data reporting. Hawle.live CAPs are available for above- and below-ground hydrants of regional standards.
Please contact Hawle Service for help in selecting the right Hawle.live CAP for your hydrants.