Fire Hydrant Maintenance
Background: A sufficient water supply is critical to fighting fires. The City of Memphis Fire Department (MFD) inspects and tests all fire hydrants, typically during the Spring flushing season. This operation requires the efforts of all fire stations and all firefighters.
Previously, the process and activities were manual. Fire personnel were issued an Excel spreadsheet that listed the hydrants within their FMZs (fire management zones); then personnel would go to each hydrant, do their inspections, and document the hydrant's condition in the spreadsheet. Fire Lieutenants were responsible for entering the data into their records management system. This was a tedious and complicated process due to the complexity of the system and the difficult user interface. Sometimes the data was not entered correctly and often there was a delay in data entry.
Another challenge that MFD faced was the accuracy of the hydrant locations and/or its associated ID number. These challenges made it very difficult to have accurate data on the hydrants.
How can spatial technology streamline the hydrant flushing workflow and improve the accuracy of hydrant data for effective operations and maintenance?
Implementation: The Information Services Division (ISD) collaborated with MFD and developed a 4-pronged approach. The areas of focus included:
- Initial hydrant location data cleanup to provide firefighters an accurate list
- Real-time bi-directional data sync between the GIS system and the records management system so that manual data entry was not necessary
- A mobile application that equips firefighters with the ability to update inspection records on the spot
- A real-time operations analytics dashboard for Fire management to see progress and identify issues for faster data driven decisions
Since the 2018 launch of the fire hydrant flushing app, ISD implemented improvements based on feedback received. In 2019, a maintenance app that ties into the flushing app was added and the flushing app was updated for an improved user experience. This real-time integration between the flushing app and maintenance app allows seamless communication between the teams that service each.
Results: The results have been significant. According to MFD, in 2016, there were over 10,000 missed or inaccurate hydrant records out of 24,000 hydrants. It was better in 2017 in terms of getting more records into the records management system, but the records were inaccurate. In 2018, use of the new fire hydrant flushing app resulted in only 654 hydrant records needing to be addressed, a vast improvement over 2016.
Key Contributors: Memphis Fire Department and Information Services Division