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New Long Beach Fire Hydrants Won’t Rust, Freeze, Or Get Opened By Wrong People

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LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — In Long Beach, some revolutionary new fire hydrants have been turning a lot of heads.

As CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported Tuesday, city managers said they are moving ahead with the completely redesigned hydrants to save money and lives.

Long Beach Water Supt. Chris Windle cannot get enough of the new fire hydrants popping up in the city. They are made of stainless steel and composite metals that are rust proof and do not freeze up.

But in what city officials called the best part, the hydrant can only be opened with a specially-designed wrench.

“You can’t buy this anywhere else — like any other wrench you can with Home Depot or mom-and-pop hardware stores, that open any of the hydrants in the system,” Windle said. “So when it’s closed, you can’t hit it, knock it, or shed it, do anything.”

More than 100 of the fire hydrants have been installed already, from the Long Beach boardwalk to the train station. In appearance, some call them otherworldly while others see them as art.

“They look like something from outer space. It’s very nice,” said Dan Cohen of Brooklyn.

“I think they’re very nice,” said Dennis Donahue of Long Beach. “Very artistic; very different to the old fire hydrants. They look nice. They add to the décor of the beach town here.”

The radically new fire hydrants are already sparking envy elsewhere in town, with residents asking when their aging hydrants will be replaced.

“Looks pretty old,” Long Beach worker Frank Perillo said of an old fire hydrant. “It’s rusted; you know, the color’s pretty faded.”

City leaders said residents will soon be seeing many more of the new hydrants, since the oceanside community has qualified for Federal Emergency Management Administration grants to set up the work.

“We had a lot of our hydrants throughout the city, after Sandy, be damaged by saltwater inundation and infiltration, and that presents a challenge to our safety in our city that we just can’t have,” said Long Beach city manager Jack Schnirman.

Schnirman added that the new hydrants are more reliable in bad weather – a peace of mind that firefighters will not run out of water in a city with so many beachside towers.

The new hydrants were created by a retired New York City firefighter named George Sigelakis, who said he grew frustrated with hydrants that would not open or that did not have enough water pressure.

Sigelakis’ hydrants are now being used in a dozen states.

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