Day 188

Beating the heat, legally

July 5th, 2012

Fitted with a perforated cap that allows about 25 gallons of water per minute to spray into the street, this fire hydrant serves as a neighborhood sprinkler in which children and other young-at-heart hydrophiles can cool off and frolic. Even though the fire department provides these spray caps for free, many young New Yorkers prefer to illegally crack open their local hydrants, setting them on full blast. An unthrottled hydrant (like this one) can release upwards of 1000 gallons of water per minute, noticeably reducing water pressure in the area and lowering the flow into the hoses of any firefighters who may be trying to put out a nearby blaze.

To deal with the prevalence of these illegal street geysers during the summer months, the Department of Environmental Protection sends out teams of professional killjoys: those unfortunate workers assigned to hydrant duty, whose job it is to go around and turn off all the open fireplugs, trampling the sweet, naïve joy of countless youngsters who just want to enjoy a nice shpritz, and incurring the wrath of heat-crazed, projectile-equipped onlookers.

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