October; Paint your Fire Hydrant Pink Month
By Mark Ufkes
October is Breast and All Cancer Awareness Month. To do our part to promote cancer health awareness, my remarkable wife Lois Schipper and I spent an hour painting our White Center fire hydrant a wonderful pink hue. Here is how we did it. First, we cleared off the concrete pad it was sitting on with a hard brush. We then swept the actual hydrant with a clean patio broom and put newspaper down around the base to catch the paint drops. We used two 3-inch cheap brushes. The gallon of pink paint was a Home Depot Opps find. It cost $9, and one gallon can give two coats of paint for 5 or 6 fire hydrants.
And yes, it is legal . . . if your water is provided by Seattle Public Utilities. Seattle allows you to paint your fire hydrants! About a third of our neighborhoods in the unincorporated areas of White Center, those that border Arbor Heights and Southwest Seattle, already have Seattle utility services.
As a Scoutmaster, several years ago, I approached Seattle Public Utilities and asked permission to re-paint all the hydrants in the White Center area as a possible Eagle Scout project. They gave me approval and encouraged us to “Make it look nice, be careful with traffic, and clean up afterwards” The scout took a different project, so many of the fire hydrants remain in desperate need of new paint. Our freshly painted pink fire hydrant is located on SW 107th Way, between 22nd Ave. SW and 26th Ave. SW.
Everyone has lost someone to cancer. Everyone. So, get your wife, husband, kids, partners, neighbors, church group, any and all of your friends, and go paint your fire hydrant. Be careful with the traffic, wear orange vests if possible so the drivers can see you working, and take lots of pictures (to send to your friends). For October, any color of pink will do. And it will remind us that those who have died of cancer are still with us every day. We painted ours pink for my mom, Iris Adkins, who died of colon cancer in 1972, when she was 43 years old.
The Seattle Fire Dept paints the CAPS different colors to indicate water pressure.. even though they usually run it through the pumper truck anyway.. still it’s a guide for firefighters that painting them yourself obscures. So.. don't paint the caps.
And hydrants that are out of order are painted WHITE so ..painting them pink, however well intentioned may mislead firefighters who would not know and cause them to waste time in an emergency. If there's a white one.. Don't paint it.
The hydrant cap colors indicate the water main diameter size. If the diameter is small and the fire truck pumps are set for a larger diameter water main you can pull all of the water out too fast and create an air void which in turn creates extremely dirty water for the neighborhood. So check with SPU first.