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Fire Hydrant Rings: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do the different colors of a fire hydrant mean something?


The different colors of a fire hydrant serve as important visual communication tools for firefighters. These colors indicate the water flow capacity of the hydrant and are recommended by the NFPA. According to the NFPA guidelines, fire hydrants should be color-coded in the following manner:

  • - Red for a water-flow capacity of less than 500 gallons per minute (GPM)
  • - Orange for a water-flow capacity of 500 to 999 GPM
  • -Green for a water-flow capacity of 1,000 to 1,499 GPM
  • -Blue for a water-flow capacity of 1,500 GPM or greater

These colors are usually limited to the fire hydrant tops and nozzle caps, but colors may also be seen on the hydrant body. The NFPA recommends that the body of a public hydrant should be chrome yellow to ensure high visibility. While most new hydrants are usually this color, there may still be variations depending on the local guidelines or regulations. 

Q. What does a purple fire hydrant signify?

A purple/violet fire hydrant signifies that the water for the hydrant comes from a lake or pond and is not potable, i.e., not fit for consumption.

Q. Are there any rules if I want to paint my fire hydrant?

The purpose of color-coding fire hydrants is to achieve uniformity and help firefighters respond to an emergency without wasting precious time figuring out the water capacity and source. These codes are defined and recommended for use by the NFPA and many states often have their own standards around the colors to be used. Painting your fire hydrant may require explicit permission from or compliance with specific guidelines of your local fire department.

Q. What color should I use to paint my fire hydrant?

According to NFPA 291, private hydrants located on public streets should be painted red or some other color to distinguish them from public hydrants that are color-coded according to the water capacity and supply source. Marking and color-coding private fire hydrants may be done at the owner's discretion in some places and may require authority permission or warrant some sort of compliance in others. Please contact your local fire department for more accurate information.

Q. What is the PSI of a fire hydrant?

The rated capacity of fire hydrants is 20 psi, i.e., all hydrants are believed to provide at least 20 psi. If the pressure drops below 20 psi, contaminated groundwater may flow in owing to the newly created low-pressure piping system. This can adversely affect the public water supply.

Q. Why do fire hydrants have rings?


Similar to Fire Hydrant Signs, Fire hydrant rings are useful visual communication devices that indicate important information about the hydrant. These may be in the form of status rings used to mark ‘Out-of-service’ hydrants. Hydrant rings like the ones that say ‘For fire department use only’ convey ownership by defining the usage right. The NFPA flow rings adhere to the NFPA fire hydrant color code to identify the water flow capacity.

Q. Why are fire hydrant rings of different colors?


Different colored fire hydrant rings correspond with different water flow capacities of fire hydrants. A red ring indicates a rated flow capacity lower than 500 GPM and an orange ring indicates a capacity between 500-999 GPM. Green hydrant rings signify that the hydrant’s rated water flow capacity is 1000-1499 GPM, while blue rings are used to mark capacities of 1500 GPM or greater.

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