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Fire Hydrant and Water Main Valve Inspections and Maintenance

Fire Hydrants for Fire Fighting Print E-mail

Fire Hydrants for Fire Fighting
By Robert Guibord, InfraResto Corporation, April 2004
The process of fire fighting includes preventing the spread of fire from further endangering lives, property and the public.


Private property owners are responsible to maintain their private water distribution systems

The City of Ottawa on March 25, 2004, eliminated discretionary inspection of private
fire hydrants

Fire fighters need adequate water supply and well functioning fire hydrants



A few of the main components of fire fighting are full time and volunteer fire fighters with the appropriate and adequate water supply, well functioning fire hydrants and equipment to fight that fire.

Insurance companies also become very concerned with the maintenance of fire fighting components to minimize endangering human lives and damage to property.

The Ontario and National Fire codes regulate and/or recommend minimum standards and processes to maintain water distribution systems, fire hydrants and valves in operating condition.

Private property owners including; institutions, federal government, provincial government, condominium corporations, commercial establishments, industrial establishments, etc are responsible to maintain their private water distribution systems.

The City of Ottawa Corporate Services and Economic Development Committee Report #5, item #32 was approved by council on March 25, 2004, eliminating a number of discretionary services offered by the city, including fire hydrant inspection services for privately owned properties. This would include the maintenance of private fire hydrants as confirmed by the City.

Fire Hydrants and Water Main Valves

Most Condominium Corporations, private residential, institutional, commercial and industrial developments of medium size have their own internal site water distribution systems. The City water line is terminated at the property line with a water main valve. From there, the private water distribution system delivers the water to various buildings and residential blocks and includes water main conduits, water main valves, fire hydrants and building water supply shut off valves.

The City is responsible to deliver potable drinking water to your property line. The property owner / manager is responsible to deliver potable water and water for fire protection to the tenants and buildings. 

Private Fire Hydrant and Water Main Valve Maintenance

Springtime is here and it is important at this time to undertake a maintenance program for your water distribution system.

The cold of the winter is the most destructive element to a fire hydrant. Poor maintenance, missing lubrication, leaking hydrant valves, will allow water to enter the fire hydrant body and its components resulting in costly deficiencies. Fire hydrants will become non operational in freezing conditions if it has a broken bearing housing (cone), defective cone o-rings, a leaking operating nut, or an accumulation of water in the hydrant’s barrel.

When spring rolls around, a preventative maintenance program will repair any damage that may have occurred undetected during the winter.

Water Supply

Components of a water supply system:

  1. Fire hydrants
  2. Fire hydrant isolation valves for hydrant maintenance
  3. Water main conduits connected to city water
  4. Water main valves to close system for maintenance
  5. Stand post to shut domestic water supply to buildings
  6. Water main valves to shut fire line and combined water supply to buildings

Minimum Maintenance Requirements:

The Ontario Fire Code (O.Reg. 388/97 Amended to O. Reg. 315/01)

The Fire Code can be found online at: or here

Refer to section 6.6.1, 6.6.5 to 6.6.6.

In addition, the Ontario Fire Marshal's Office clarified that Article “Valves controlling water supplies used exclusively for fire protection systems shall be inspected weekly to ensure that they are wide open and are sealed or locked in that position” applies to all valves that control a water supply used for fire protection. This includes sectional valves on a water supply line and a hydrant loop. It is not however intended to apply to an isolation valve that controls a single hydrant and is usually located within a few feet of that hydrant. Although the remaining Articles under Subsection 6.6.1 applies to hydrants and valves, the more specific requirements provided in Subsection 6.6.4 take precedence for hydrants.

Some important excerpts from the Fire Code to consider:

  1. “Private and public water supplies for fire protection installations shall be maintained to provide the required flow under fire conditions.” Maximum velocity flushing will help reduce rust / sediment build-up inside the pipe, thus helping maintain the flow.
  2. “Private hydrants shall be maintained in operating condition.” This means the hydrant has to be in good operating condition at all times, and if not maintained properly can lead to serious problems during fire fighting operations. A well maintained system will also reduce maintenance costs and emergency repairs.
  3. “Hydrants shall be maintained free of snow and ice accumulations.”
  4. “Hydrants shall be readily available and unobstructed for use at all times.”
  5. “The port caps shall be removed and the connections inspected for wear, rust or obstructions that in any way hamper easy removal and corrective action shall be taken as needed.” This means that the required action to repair or maintain the hydrant needs to be taken.
  6. “If the port caps are missing … the port caps shall be re-installed.”
  7. “If the hydrant barrel is found to contain water because of poor drainage that is impractical to correct, approved measures shall be taken to prevent freezing during winter conditions.”
  8. “Hydrants shall be colour-coded in accordance with NFPA 291, ‘Fire Flow Testing and Marking of Hydrants’”

What am I as a property manager / owner responsible for?

  • Proper care and maintenance of fire hydrants and water main valves
  • Meet and exceed applicable fire code maintenance requirements listed in the fire code
  • Maintain accurate and historical fire hydrant inspection and maintenance reports
  • Review deficiencies and take necessary corrective action
  • Repair leaks or other damages immediately!
  • Restore fire hydrants with manufacturer's parts by hydrant restoration specialists.


With over 15 years of combined experience in the maintenance of water distribution systems, we recommend:

  • A maintenance program to help ensure the continued operation of your fire hydrants and valves in support of fire fighting requirements and the Fire Code.
  • Fire hydrant and valve inspections shall be carried out by a licensed technician as per the Ontario Regulation 435/93 - Ontario Resources Act.
  • Flushing to: remove loose sediment in your water lines, minimize coloured water, and improve quality of water and water flow.
  • Systems layout to inform the tenant of his component locations for shut downs in case of emergency breaks in the water main.
  • Make certain your specialist has special insurance coverage for fire hydrant maintenance.

Be sure to check out the rest of our web site for more information.


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