Public Fire Protection

Many water utilities in Maine were originally developed to provide fire protection.

  • Drinking water was a secondary consideration.
  • When a water utility is chartered to provide fire protection, the utilities water main system is often 2-3 times larger than if it provided drinking water alone.

Common water utility infrastructure includes;

  • Water source (well, pond, river)
  • Water treatment (filtration, chlorination, etc)
  • Pumps
  • Water mains
  • Storage tanks (provide pressure and large amounts of water)
  • Fire Hydrants

Why should the municipalities pay for fire protection charges?

  • Fire protection service is largely a stand-by service, the costs of which are principally the costs of providing capacity and holding it in readiness to furnish water at any time a fire breaks out.
  • Most of the important municipal services are in town centers, as are most water utilities service areas.
  • Fire protection provided by the District is used to help safeguard the public buildings that all taxpayers use.
  • The distribution system cost allocated to fire protection is the difference between existing cost and the hypothetical cost of the system without providing fire protection.
  • Sometimes a decrease in insurance rates when fire protection is available.
  • York is considered a Protection Class 4.
  • This rating provides a 4% reduction for fire insurance for commercial properties.
  • Largely in part to the last ISO report (Insurance Services Office) Credit is based on the strength of our Public Water Supply & fire hydrants. Also, the strength of both Fire Departments.

ISO allocates credit by evaluating the following 3 major features

  • Fire alarm and communication system. This review accounts for 10% of the total classification which centers upon a community’s facilities and support for handling and dispatching fire alarms.
  • Fire department. This review accounts for 50% of the total classification which focuses upon items such as engine companies, ladder or service companies, distribution on fire stations and fire companies, equipment carried on apparatus, pumping capacity, reserve apparatus, department manning, and training.
  • Water supply system. This review accounts for 40% of the total classification highlighting the water supply a community uses fire suppression, including hydrant size, type, and installation, as well as the inspection frequency and condition of fire hydrants.

York Water District

The York Water District has 376 public & 67private fire hydrants in the distribution system.

In addition, the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, & Wells Water District provides fire protection in a small section of the northern part of York.

The Kittery Water District provides fire protection in the southwestern part of York off of Rte. 91, Scotland Bridge and the Beech Ridge Road Areas.

Fire Departments please note

All of the York Water District and Kittery Water District hydrants are "Open Left"

All of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport & Wells Water District hydrants are "Open Right"

Whenever a hydrant is being operated it must be opened and closed very slowly. If a hydrant is operated incorrectly it could cause a Water Hammer. Water Hammer is a pressure surge or wave resulting when a fluid in motion is forced to stop or change direction suddenly (momentum change). Water hammer commonly occurs when a valve is opened or closed suddenly in a pipe system, and a pressure wave propagates in the pipe. This pressure wave can cause major problems, from noise and vibration to pipe collapse. It is possible to reduce the effects of the water hammer by operating Fire Hydrants slowly.

It is recommended to open a fire hydrant at a rate of one turn per 4 seconds. (now that is slow)

Hydrant Usage Rule of Thumb

Contact YWD anytime Fire Department is dispatched to a fire scene.

The District will lend assistance where appropriate.

When closing a fire hydrant. Close it very slowly!

Do not “reef” it shut! Close it only tight enough to stop to flow to remove your equipment. If necessary, a YWD crew member will inspect the hydrant to confirm it has been shut off without any dripping.

District will also pump all hydrants after use. Year Round!

Leave a message @ 363-2265. Someone will arrive within 20 minutes.

Dead End Water Mains

The important element surrounding "dead end" mains is that they are only supplied with water from one end. In such instances, fire companies pumping "upstream" from other companies can impact water supply to their "downstream" counterparts. Your engine companies should be made aware of the situation and coordinate appropriately to ensure the available water is adequately shared.

Dead end mains don't just exist on dead end streets. Many roads which extend into different sections of town will have slightly different pressure and volume due to elevation changes.

Hydrant Operating Nut Colors

What do they mean?

Red Nut: 0 - 500 GPM*
Orange Nut: 500 - 999 GPM*
Green Nut: 1000 – 1499 GPM*
Blue Nut: 1500+ GPM*
*GPM=Gallons Per Minute

Typical Hydrant Installation

Click here to see a typical fire hydrant installation.