Posted by: scribe9 | May 7, 2010

Hidden hydrants

In the six months I’ve lived in New Zealand, I’ve visited all the major cities, but I’ve seen only one fire hydrant—in Auckland, and just by chance.

This is a civilized nation with infrastructure, so there are plenty of them around. And as in the US, their presence is indicated by blue reflectors in the street. But they’re not the big hunks of metal that lurk on American corners inviting Bicentennial artists, college partisans, and male dogs.

Judging from the one I saw, they are simply valves that sit under utility covers until needed. (I don’t know why that one was missing a cover, but I’m guessing its location on the University of Auckland campus may have been a factor.)  The utility covers are painted no-parking-curb yellow and marked “FH” or “HYDRANT,” and against the wall or fence there’s a two-foot-tall post—either concrete or a plastic slat—marked the same way. Sometimes there’s a yellow triangle painted next to the reflector, pointing to the hydrant, and occasionally a stripe of yellow on the curb, just to make sure the hydrant is found when needed. New Zealanders tend to be discreet, and their fire hydrants are, too.

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