|Mueller Centurion fire hydrant (left) and "THE COREY (right). Paint color|
on the bonnet and outlet caps signifies how much water will come out.
Through the paint, and sometimes through the rust, most of the
fire hydrants in Maynard read MUELLER, ALBERTVILLE
and either ALA
), plus a year for when the hydrant
was made. Mueller Company was started in 1857, but did not get into the hydrant
business until 1933, when it acquired Columbian Iron Works. An informal search
found a Mueller hydrant dated 1959. One of the newest - dated 2015 - is next to
the former American Legion building, at corner of Summer and Linden Streets. Older Mueller hydrants have CHATT TENN instead of Albertville.
And the oldest hydrant in town? There may be Mueller
hydrants that pre-date 1959 (two of those on Nason Street). That's not shockingly old, as with proper
maintenance hydrants can be operative past 75 years. Forest Street hosts an
antiquated-looking, red-topped hydrant with "THE COREY" across the
top. This model, from the Rensselaer Manufacturing Company, was named after the
inventor William W. Corey. This individual hydrant may be more than 100 years
old, although some versions of that model were still being made into the 1930s.
There is an "1895" low on the front, but it seems that refers to the
patent year, not the manufacture year.
|Click on any photo to enlarge|
Maynard appears to use a nationally standardized color
coding system on older hydrants to indicate capacity. The main body of each
hydrant is painted white. The bonnet and outlet caps are blue, green, yellow or
red. Color indicates water output in gallons per minute, with blue meaning
excellent, green meaning good, and so on. Route 117 toward Stow
has a series of red-topped hydrants. All
newer hydrants are entirely red, as the fire department now has computerized
information on water volume and water pressure provided by the Department of
Public Works, which is responsible for hydrant maintenance.
|Mueller Centurion hydrant dated 1959.|
Two with this date on Nason Street.
All of Maynard's public hydrants are dry barrel, meaning
that the insides of the hydrants are not full of water when not in use. The top
nut connects via a long rod to the valve many feet down, at the level of the
water pipe. The alternative system - wet barrel - is used in warmer climates,
where there is no risk of water in a hydrant freezing solid, which would render
the hydrant useless and possibly damaged. Those movie scenes in which a truck or
bus hits a hydrant and water spouts high into the air can be true, but not
Maynard in the late 1880s had a population of 2500 and no
central water system. Pipes and pumps were installed to bring water three miles
north from White Pond, Sudbury.
In town, a tank was built on Summer Hill, so that water pumped to the hilltop
would provide good water pressure to all homes and businesses. The initial
system included just over 7,500 feet of iron pipe and 57 fire hydrants.
Subsequent annual reports mention pipe and hydrants being added as the town
grew. Settled Maynard was very compact at the time; today's more spread out population
is on the order of 10,000 people, serviced by a roughly estimated 400 to 500
There are perhaps a dozen hydrant manufacturing companies in
the United States,
and many more elsewhere, so it is nice to think that Maynard makes a point of
buying American iron. Nice, but now also legally required. The American Iron
and Steel Act of 2014 requires that any public water system getting federal
funds to help pay for waterworks of any type use iron and steel products
produced in the United
By the way, you break it you own it, meaning that your
insurance company will have to cover the cost of hydrant replacement in
addition to the damage to your vehicle. Same applies to any damaged signage,
light posts, traffic lights, etc. The newer Mueller Centurion models are
designed to break off when hit, minimizing damage to the underground parts.
|Sign in Stow, MA|
|Stow Fire Department|
access to Elizabeth Brook
Lest any reader think this column is neglecting Maynard's
western neighbor, Stow
does not have a public water supply system, and thus no centralized system of hydrants.
New housing developments are required to have underground water storage tanks. For
everything else, the Stow Fire Department is equipped to pump water from
streams, ponds and lakes. This is not as scary as it sounds. First responder trucks carry 500-1000 gallons of water, which is often all it takes to knock down a fire. Even if not extinguished, time is gained for other water-carrying trucks (Stow's and neighboring towns) to arrive. Only rarely would there be a need for the trucks to shuttle back and forth from a water source to the site of the fire.
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