Technology: Singapore trials new fire hydrants that are easier and faster to operate
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and national water agency PUB have introduced a new "smart" fire hydrant that is easier and faster to operate and has sensors that automatically measure water flow and pressure. The new hydrant speeds up the process of obtaining water during an emergency by about 60 percent, the agencies said in a news release on Tuesday, 21 December 2021. “This time saving is crucial as in a life-threatening emergency such as a major industrial fire, every second counts,” the agencies said. The agencies started a year-long proof-of-concept trial on 26 October 2021, with a smart hydrant prototype installed along Prince Edward Road. If successful, the agencies will jointly explore the wider implementation of the hydrants in Singapore, they said.
Major Muhammad Shafi' Rafie, commander of the Marina Bay Fire Station, which is next to the location of the new hydrant, said the trial will include assessing the reliability of the hydrant and the accuracy of the data collected by its sensors. “During a fire fighting operation, every minute counts towards mitigating the fire, in saving lives and in preventing further property damage”, said Major Shafi' Rafie.
Authorities will be able to do a one-to-one replacement of existing hydrants as the new design is compatible with the existing hydrant connection fittings to the water network.
This will require only “minor works with minimal excavation” as the existing underground valves and pit cover access will be retained, the agencies said.
Singapore has nearly 23 000 public hydrants across the country. They come in three versions ie ground hydrants, triple pillar hydrants and double pillar hydrants and have been largely unchanged in function and design for the past 40 years, the agencies added
Currently, fire fighters must go through a multi-step process that takes an average of one minute in order to operate a hydrant.
Fire fighters first use a key to lift and remove the hydrant pit cover and then another extendable hydrant key to open an underground valve that discharges the water. The pit cover could also be difficult to open due to rust and soil movements, costing fire fighters precious seconds.
They must also bring along a hydrant tool kit, comprising fire hose coupling adaptors for the hydrant arms.
The smart hydrant, on the other hand, does not require adaptors and has a control valve on top that is operated using a single customised spanner. This means fire fighters will be able to connect their hoses directly to the hydrant and will no longer need to remove the pit cover to access the underground valve.
The improved process takes an average of 40 seconds.
Sources: Channel News Asia, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)