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UK Fire Hydrant Regulations and Locations

All community Fire and Rescue Services have fire hydrant rules and regulations. Legal requirements relate most to their access to fire fighting dry riser appliances.

This section also explains the legal requirements for fire hydrant location and fire hydrant flow rate in the United Kingdom.

Fire Hydrant Rules UK

Does the UK have fire hydrants? Well, walk a few hundred metres from your home and you are most likely to see a fire hydrant sign [a small yellow ‘H’].

Fire hydrant signs direct firefighters to the exact location of a water supply. This would be particularly important if something was obscuring the hydrant cover (e.g. foliage).

You will see two numbers displayed on all fire hydrant signage. The top number designates the size of the water main and the bottom number denotes its distance from the post.

Last time we checked:

All modern measurements (since the late 1970s in Britain) are now shown in Metric numerals (e.g. millimetres and metres).

Even so, you still might see some of the older signage still using Imperial measurements (e.g. feet and inches).

In fact, the changeover from Imperial to Metric is a continual process of replacement. Nonetheless, they all need checking and maintaining by professionals to comply with UK regulations on fire hydrants.

Fire and Rescue Service Access to Facilities

As part of local community safety, people living in private dwellings must provide the Fire Service with vehicular access to fire appliances (e.g. water hydrants and dry risers).

Access Routes and Hard Standings
  • A vehicle access route may be a road or other route. But, it can also include any manhole covers that meet the standards.
  • Access should be available to an elevation for high reach appliances. In this case, the natural access should not have overhead obstructions (e.g. cables and branches). These can interfere with the use of ladders and firefighting equipment.

Note: Failure to do so is against the Building Regulations in the United Kingdom. Even worse, negligence or a lack of fire safety procedures may put the lives of home and office occupiers at risk.

Domestic Dwellings (Houses)

There should be vehicular access for a pumping appliance to within 45 metres of all points within the dwelling house.

Every elevation to which vehicle access would be provided should have a suitable door. It should not be less than 750 millimetres wide and it should give access to the interior of the building.

Our fire prevention guide contains essential advice, tips, and information about preventing house fires. You can also read about the perils of outdoor BBQs and the dangers of using candles in the home.

Flats or Maisonettes

There should be vehicle access for a pumping appliance to blocks of flats or maisonettes to within 45 metres of all points within each dwelling.

Note: The access requirements for other buildings depends upon the total floor area and the height.

Interesting Fact: Mystery surrounds the original inventor of the first fire hydrant. Legend has it that its patent got destroyed in a fire!

Firefighting Water Supplies

UK Fire Hydrant Signs Regulations and LocationsIn the United Kingdom, the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Water UK National Guidance Document provides legal guidance.

The yellow ‘H’ image shows fire hydrant signs regulations for proximity and pipe diameter.

They provide the recommended fixture locations and minimum water flow rates.

UK fire hydrant regulations also govern installation in relation to the minimum distance from buildings and dwellings.

Note: Check out The UK Rules Pinterest section for a larger image and other pictures relating to health and safety.

UK Fire Hydrant Locations and Flow Rates

  • Minimum of eight (8) liters/sec (480 l/min) for detached or semi detached of not more than two floors.
  • Up to 35 liters/sec (2100 l/min) for units of more than two floors.
  • These flow rates can be from any single hydrant on the development.

  • Minimum of twenty five (25) liters/sec (1500 l/min) for lorry and coach parks, multi-storey car parks, and service stations.
  • This can be from any hydrant on the development or within a vehicular distance of 90 metres from the complex.
Industry (industrial estates)

The recommendation says any fire hydrant water supply infrastructure should provide a mains network on the site. As a rule this should be at least 150 millimetres nominal diameter:

  • Up to one (1) hectare minimum of twenty (20) l/sec (1200 l/min).
  • One to two (2) hectares minimum of thirty five (35) l/sec (2100 l/min).
  • Two to three (3) hectares minimum of fifty (50) l/sec (3000 l/min).
  • Over three hectares minimum of seventy five (75) l/sec (4500 l/min).

Note: High risk areas may require a greater fire hydrant flow rate.

Shopping, Offices, Recreation, and Tourism

Minimum of twenty (20) liters/sec (1200 l/min) to 75 liters/sec (4500 l/min) depending on the nature and extent of the development.

Education, Health, and Community Facilities

  • Village halls – Minimum of fifteen (15) l/sec (900 l/min) through any single hydrant on the development or within a vehicular distance of one hundred (100) metres from the complex.
  • Primary schools and single storey health centers – Minimum of twenty (20) l/sec (1200l/min) through any single hydrant on the development or within a vehicular distance of 70 metres of the complex.
  • Secondary schools, colleges, large health centers and community facilities – Minimum of thirty five (35) l/sec (2100 l/min) through any single hydrant on the development or within a vehicular distance of 70 metres from the complex.

Caravan Sites (chalets)

Dry riser regulations state that a fire hydrant should be located at the entrance to the caravan site and if necessary, at three hundred (300) metre intervals. The hydrant should provide a minimum of 8 liters/sec (480 l/min).

If no piped water supply is available, or where there is insufficient pressure or flow in the water main, an alternative source must be provided.

UK Fire Hydrant Regulations on Building Size

Current Building Regulations require an adequate water supply for firefighting. A reasonable water supply must be available in circumstances where:

  • The building has a compartment of 280 square metres (or more) in area.
  • There is no existing fire hydrant within one hundred (100) metres.

Note: The short video clip shows what hydrants are and why parking over them is dangerous. Failure to comply with the placement code according to fire hydrant regulations UK may prevent the applicant from obtaining a final certificate for building regulations.

Acceptable Open Water Supplies

Where no piped water supply is available, or there is insufficient pressure and flow in the water main, an alternative arrangement may be proposed as an acceptable open water supply.

This may be used in firefighting operations as the alternative water supply. Typical examples include:

  • A spring, river, pond or canal which is capable of storing or providing at least 45,000 liters of water at all times of the year.
  • A charged static tank of at least 45,000 liters capacity.

Note: Fire hydrants legislation states suitable access, space and hard standing for a pumping appliance must be provided for all acceptable open water supplies.

Fire Hydrant Testing and Maintenance

The testing of fire hydrants (when located on private property) falls under the responsibility of the land or business owner.

Professional engineers would perform a visual inspection of the hydrant frame and the cover. They would also check the surface surrounding the hydrant – along with the ‘H’ plate.

It is important to remove any debris or vegetation that may have grown over the cover. The fire brigade must have easy, and unobstructed access, in any emergency situation.

A test carried out by a professional would involve an inspection of the outlet cap, valves, water pressure, and the water flow rate.

Important: The section on workplace fire safety provides further information on the responsibilities of a nominated ‘responsible person’ and the penalties for failing to follow the regulations.

UK Fire Hydrant Regulations and Dry Riser Requirements