Saturday, October 07, 2006


The random Canine Passer-by stops to lift a leg, hosing it down with a hot stream of urine.

Urban youths grab wrenches, removing its protective caps and twisting the valve that sits at its apex, flooding the steaming streets with a blast of cooling water.

Its proximity to your residence will affect the premium you pay for your fire insurance. Close is good; far, not so good.

I speak of the humble Fire Hydrant.

Fire Hydrant

Objects that are so much a part of the daily landscape that we give them no consideration, fire hydrants are, in the modern world of high population densities, a necessary Enabling Technology. For without easy access to water, fire in an urban environment would be impossible to control. Imagine a Towering Inferno juxtaposed against an eighteenth century Bucket Brigade...

Back in my Snot-Nose Days, we called these little fixtures “fire plugs,” or, more commonly, “Johnny Pumps.” The latter, at least according to Wikipedia, is a New York City locution, and will be strange and unfamiliar to many of my Esteemed Readers.

What did you call the fire hydrants in your neighborhood when you were a kid?

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