Reflective accessories installed on Owen Sound's fire hydrants
 

Owen Sound firefighter Andrew Cooper, left, and water distribution operator Mark Hill hold up the four colour variations of reflective discs that have been installed on fire hydrants throughout the city. Denis Langlois/The Owen Sound Sun Times/Post Media Network DENIS LANGLOIS / DENIS LANGLOIS/THE SUN TIMES/POST MEDIA NETWORK

Most drivers in Owen Sound have likely already noticed that neighbourhoods in the city now have an added splash of colour after dark.
 
Water distribution department staff have installed reflective discs, in either blue, green, orange or red, on the side ports of all 646 of the city’s fire hydrants.
 
The disc colour indicates the water flow rate of each hydrant, with blue signalling the highest capacity and red symbolizing the lowest.
 
“The colour code, and therefore the capacity of the hydrant, is very important information for the fire department when they need to find a hydrant, fast. The reflectors are easier to see at night, so that speeds up the process,” said public works manager Matt Prentice.
 
The colour painted on each hydrant’s top, known as its bonnet, used to indicate the flow rate.
 
Prentice said the plan is to paint all hydrants, bonnets included, yellow next year. The largest side port will remain black. The reflective discs alone will then indicate the capacity of the hydrant.
 
More than half – about 360 – of the city’s hydrants have been marked with blue reflective discs, which indicate a water flow rate of 5,700 litres (1,500 gallons) or more of water per minute.
 
About 150 hydrants, identified by a green disc, have a flow rate of 3,800 to 5,699 litres (1,000 to 1,499 gallons) per minute, while another 110 hydrants have an orange disc, which signals a flow rate of 1,900 to 3,799 litres (500 to 999 gallons) per minute. Approximately 25 hydrants are marked with a red disc for a flow rate of less than 1,900 litres (500 gallons) per minute.
 
Owen Sound deputy fire chief Michael Clark said firefighters have a good knowledge of the water flow rates available in each hydrant throughout the city.
But when seconds count, the reflective discs will help.
 
“Certainly when there are choices to be made between one hydrant or another, they can tell at a glance which one has a higher rating,” he said in an interview.
 
The reflective discs have been installed on fire hydrants in many other Ontario cities and municipalities, including Toronto, Niagara Falls, Windsor, Barrie and Peel Region.