June 9, 2014 AT 2:00 am

This Fire Hydrant Re-design Was Long Overdue

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Fastcoexist has a story on a newly designed fire hydrant model, the Sigelock Spartan. Former NYC Firefighter, George Sigelakis, designed this new model to rectify the many sources of malfunction plaguing fire hydrants across the country, which he encountered first-hand while on the job:

To redesign the hydrant, Sigelakis needed to understand why they break in the first place. The problem is twofold: First, most hydrants are made of cast iron, which erodes with time and exposure to the elements, leading to cracks, leaks, and freezing. Second, they’re easy to open, making them a perfect target for anyone looking to cool down on a hot summer day. But hydrants are not intended to be used as a sprinkler. On full blast, an open hydrant can put out more than 1,000 gallons of water per minute. That kind of force is both wasteful and dangerous. Plus, residents may not close the hydrant properly, leading to leaks and wasted water.

So Sigelakis’s first step to a better hydrant was to make it nearly impossible to break in to. The working parts of the Spartan “Security Model” are completely encapsulated in a smooth, spherical locking mechanism. “I realized you need to shield it, encapsulate it, so they can’t put any kind of wrench on it and open it up,” Sigelakis says. The lock can only be opened with a special tool he provides, which exerts more than 3,000 pounds of inward force. The result is a nearly impenetrable, simply-designed (if somewhat odd-looking) nub. “Everybody says I have the funny looking hydrant,” he muses. But with the new design comes a new level of safety. During testing, it took hours to crack into the hydrant with an arsenal of tools that included torches.

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