TAKING ACTION: What happens if a fire hydrant isn’t working at a scene?

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.-- A family of three escaped unharmed as their house went up in flames early this morning in Morgan County. While firefighters were able to get the blaze under control, there was little left of the home.

The family said thankfully they noticed the power was out in their home around two in the morning, and that's when they discovered the house was on fire. The American Red Cross is helping the displaced family with disaster relief. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Crews working the scene in the morning had reported the fire hydrants on the scene weren't working, but the Hartselle fire chief said they were. They were just the smaller hydrants so the water flow was much slower than they needed them to be.

WHNT News 19 took action to find out what would happen if a fire hydrant actually did happen to fail. Huntsville Fire Department Capt. Frank McKenzie said that it is very rare a fire hydrant won't work when they get to a scene.

"We test every plug in the city once a year, if something's wrong with a plug we report it right then over the radio to our 911 dispatch, the dispatch in return will report that to Huntsville Utilities who does all the work on the plugs," he explained.

Capt. McKenzie said they test to make absolutely sure the hydrants are working.

"We'll open the hydrant up, we'll take all the caps off, and making sure that everything's working properly, we're getting the proper water flow, things like that, there's no jams or no problems," he said.

If they do happen to come across a hydrant that isn't working, he said they would just go to the next nearest one available. Every City of Huntsville fire truck is equipped with 1,000 feet of hose.

"The plugs are color coded if you notice the fire hydrants at the top of the plugs will be different colors, well that's very important to us because the drivers are taught that each one of those colors represent a different gallons per minute that we can get out of that plug," said McKenzie.

He said every driver they have has to know where all the fire hydrants are in their district, and that they have them GPS plotted on their laptops as a back up.

"They can look at that plug and see if that plug is enough to be able to fight that fire, or if they're going to have to catch different plugs to extinguish that fire in the building," said Capt. McKenzie.

The highest color coded fire hydrants have blue tops. Those hydrants can pump up to fifteen hundred gallons per minute of water, or more.