Can you Fill a Pool with a Fire Hydrant? (Is it even Legal?)


Filling a pool with a fire hydrant

The summer heat is coming upon you and you just can’t wait to go swimming in your pool! The problem? The pool is empty and last year it costs you thousands of dollars to fill up your pool using a service! Plus, the time it takes to fill up using a hose from your house is excruciating long!

Can you fill a pool with a fire hydrant? Yes, you can fill a pool with a fire hydrant and many people do every year. It’s a quick way to fill up your pool but you will need the approval of your city council and help from the fire department! There is a process that must be followed before you can begin. Tampering with a fire hydrant is illegal and dangerous without approval!  In this article, I’ll tell you the process of connecting to that precious and abundant water source right outside your home!

Who to contact about filling a pool with a fire hydrant?

Tapping into a fire hydrant without city approval and a meter is illegal and people have actually been charged with theft if they have done this without the correct approval. Every country, city, and county will have their own process to get approval. After the process is approved, they will have their own set of instructions to follow in order to get the water you need from the hydrant.

The list of places to contact to find out exactly who you need to talk to will differ depending on your location but here is a list of where to start:

  • The City Council
  • The Department of Water
  • Local Fire Department

Just by a simple google search, I was able to find the process for applying in my hometown of St. Louis, Mo via their website https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/public-utilities/water/hydrant-use-permits.cfm

They have an application and process to request a permit to use the Fire Hydrant in the city.

For your own local municipality, I would just begin with a simple search using the contacts above to find a contact number to find the correct department to place your request. Someone from the city council, department of water, or fire department will know exactly who you should be speaking with for your request.

Will the Fire Department fill up my pool?

This is going to really vary on your location. Some small town or municipalities probably love to offer this service for a donation which I mention below in the article. With that being said, if you live in a busier area the Fire Department probably does not have the time or the resources to help you fill your pool. This isn’t 100% of course, you can take a shot by contacting them to find out. It might be a service that they enjoy providing because it provides fees that helps them purchase equipment and keep the firehouse up to date. Especially, in a small community. 

How to fill a pool with a fire hydrant?

You will need a meter from the city and a permit to legally fill your pool from a fire hydrant in most cases. If you were able to make contact with the right person in your city. You’ll have gone through the process for a letter from the fire department(some cities), filled out a permit, and paid a deposit for the meter. The city may provide you with a hydrant wrench along with your meter if you will be doing this without the help of the fire department. 

Whoever in your city is delegated to provide the pool filling services from the hydrant will come with all the tools necessary to hook up and fill your pool with water this will include a meter. The meter will be used to track how much water you are using so that you can pay the city accordingly. 

Important Note: You should know the number of gallons or liters of water that will be needed from the hydrant when you request the service from the city. In my research, it seems that some municipalities will charge you for the amount that you order, not the amount that you actually use if you go under the requested amount.

Once the service arrives, they will connect a meter to the fire hydrant which can then connect to a 1” normal garden hose or a 3” fire hose. Then they will begin to fill your pool while tracking the amount of water. 

There are some precautions that a pool owner should be aware of that we mention later in this article but be sure to read that if the fire department does use a 3” fire hose to fill your pool. 

Cost to fill a pool with a Fire Hydrant?

How about a donation? I’ve actually heard that some small towns and cities will take a donation to the city or fire department in exchange for helping to fill your pool. Which I imagine doesn’t include the actual cost of the water though, I’m sure this will always need to be paid as it’s the city’s water. 

Getting a meter from the city will require a deposit, which you will get back when you return the meter. Some cities also charge a small fee to rent the meter. Examples of the fee are about $40 dollars which is in a small city in Tennessee and $30 dollars in a small town in North Carolina. 

Some cities will ask that you pay upfront for the requested amount of water which is why you’ll need to know how many gallons your pool needs at the start of the process. Here is a link to a resource for calculating the volume of water your pool will need: https://www.swimmingpool.com/resources/tools&apps/pool-volume-calculator/

The actual cost varies wildly from city to city across the country so you’ll need to find out what your city will charge for the use of the Fire Hydrant water. It should be similar to what you get charged per gallon on your current water bill, so you can take a look at your bill and use the simple formula below to calculate how much it would cost you.

(Pool Capacity In Gallons/1000) x Cost Per 1000 Gallons

For example, I have attached a table with an average of $8.00 per gallon so you can see what it would cost to fill up your pool at that price.

Should you fill up your pool with a fire hydrant? 3 Possible Problems

  1. If you are able to complete the process get a meter that will hook up to your standard garden hose then this first issue won’t be of concern for you. If you are able to have the fire department fill up your pool for you then you should be wary. A fire hose pushes a lot more psi than your standard hose, which could damage the finish on your pool. If you do use a fire hose to fill up your pool, it might be best to put a plastic covering down over the finish that you can remove later once the pool begins to fill with enough water to protect the finish.
  2. Often the water in the city pipes used for fire hydrants can sit for a long time and collect sediment. This is one of the reasons you can sometimes see Fire Departments opening hydrants to run water out of them. This sediment can get into your pool and be so fine that it will nearly be impossible to get out without a separate pump. Using your pool vacuum could possibly just recirculate the same sediment back into your pool because the particles are so fine. With the seperate pump, you could target the sediment at the bottom of your pool and pump it directly out of your pool system into your yard. 
  3. Metals from the city pipes can cause some serious issues for your pool. One of the most obvious effects you might see is a rust ring that would develop in your pool. Which would cause some huge issues and costs to clean up if it doesn’t permanently destroy your pool or liner on your pool. 

FredrickWilson

The founder of Coolpoolhelp.com. I wanted a place to share all of the great information from my family to other pool lovers, builders, and those looking to buy a pool.

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