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Fire hydrants

As you go about your daily life you probably pass at least one fire hydrant as there are over 22,000 in Norfolk alone.

Contrary to popular belief they are not the above ground pillar type hydrants as seen in American films, but are underground.  You may be familiar with above ground yellow marker posts, used to identify the location and size of the water main, however the hydrant is a tap under the road that requires a standpipe to access the water supply.  It is marked with the letters F.H.

Watch a short video on YouTube which explains what a fire hydrant is.

Take care not to park your car above or too close to a fire hydrant as it could be needed in an emergency at any time.  They are used to either supplement the water supply for fire fighting or to supply/refill the tank in a fire appliance

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service has a statutory duty to take all reasonable measures to ensure there is an adequate supply of water and it is available for use in case of a fire. Maintaining fire hydrants in good working order is very important to our operational response to allow effective fire fighting activities.

Routine inspection and testing

All public fire hydrants are subject to routine inspection and testing carried out by Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service.This includes:

Above ground inspection

The hydrant frame, and cover, and the surrounding surface is checked for damage. The hydrant marker post is checked to see if the information shown is correct and is clearly visible. Any overgrowth is cut back and post and lid and kerb may require re-painting.

Below ground inspection

This Involves checking the hydrant pit and the hydrant itself. It is checked for leakage, the pit itself may require clearing of silt or debris which may affect the delivery of water for fire fighting purposes. The hydrant is also 'wet tested' to ensure the hydrant is working properly. They may also be tested for water pressure and flow.

Fire hydrant marker post, painted kerb and manhole cover


Example of a fire hydrant cover and hydrant marker plate

Fire hydrant cover and market plate

These covers may be found in the footpath roadway or in the verge.  Marker plates can be seen fixed to a post or wall or lamp post.


How to report a hydrant defect

Hydrant marker posts or plates help firefighters to quickly identify the location of fire hydrants, sadly these occasionally get vandalised or damaged. When missing or obscured it could waste valuable minutes in locating a hydrant and could potentially cost lives or increase the amount of damage in a fire.

We encourage contact from the general public in relation to problems or enquiries about fire hydrants. Reports of any damaged /leaking fire hydrant or related equipment is inspected and repaired as soon as possible.

A fire hydrant marker post is yellow and the manhole lid should be marked with the letters 'FH'. Concrete colour posts with a blue identification plate are the responsibility of the water authority.

If you spot a problem please complete the hydrants defect form.

Report a hydrant defect


Don't obstruct a fire hydrant, parking and the law on hydrant use

In the event of fire, it is vital that firefighters have access to water supplies quickly.  Obstruction of fire hydrants, particularly inconsiderate parking, could place the lives of you, your family, your neighbours and your business continuity at risk.

A person commits an offence if they damage or obstruct a fire hydrant, and is liable to prosecution (Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 section 42). This includes parking where it obstructs a fire hydrant and prevents access for fire fighting use.

It is illegal to use a fire hydrant to obtain water for purposes other than fire fighting (unless authorised by the Water Authority or other person to whom the hydrant belongs). Unauthorised access to the hydrant pit is not allowed. Persons found to be using fire hydrants without the appropriate authorisation are liable to prosecution.

Report an obstruction

Please contact the Water Officer by email or call 0300 1231165 if:

  • You are concerned that a hydrant is being used illegally
  • There is regular inconsiderate parking over a hydrant


Moving fire hydrant markers in Norfolk

On occasion, fire hydrant markers may need to be relocated in Norfolk. For example, when a property owner wishes to remove a boundary wall.

If you wish to relocate a hydrant marker in Norfolk, please contact the Water Officer by email


New housing and business developments in Norfolk

When a new housing or business development within the county is planned, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service will determine the risk and recommend the number and position of any fire hydrants required. Each hydrant is strategically placed, to ensure the minimum provision is made, whilst delivering the optimum supply of fire fighting water delivered from a mains system. Alternative water supplies are taken into account when assessing the overall requirements.

Please email for more information or about developments affecting or requiring fire hydrants in Norfolk.


Private fire hydrants and testing service

Private fire hydrants are located on water mains that are not owned by, or the responsibility of, a water company such as Anglian Water. These are generally located on large sites such as hospitals, military establishments, and industrial estates, but may also be installed to provide cover for specific risk properties. Private hydrants are the responsibility of the owners/occupiers on whose land they are installed.

Private hydrants should be installed in accordance with the appropriate British Standards and should be compatible with Fire and Rescue Service equipment.

Where private hydrants are installed they should be maintained in good working order by the responsible person(s). They should be inspected and tested in accordance with relevant British Standards, especially if they have been identified on Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service risk file information sheets and the responsible person has identified them as a reliable water source for fire fighting.

Maintenance and testing service

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service offers a service to maintain and test private hydrants. Email for further information.


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