City H.E.A.T. Campaign Warns of Dangers of Illegally Opening Fire Hydrants

July 26, 2019

Illegally Opened Fire Hydrants Reduce Water Pressure, Making Fire Fighting More Difficult; Waste 1,000 Gallons of Water Per Minute

HEAT Program Has Reduced Reports of Illegally Opened Hydrants by More Than 15 Percent

Photos of the HEAT Program Can be Viewed on DEP’s Flickr Page

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has launched the 2019 Hydrant Education Action Team (HEAT) program, a fire hydrant abuse prevention campaign that deploys teams of teens hired through the Department of Youth and Community Development’s Summer Youth Employment Program to inform New Yorkers about the dangers of illegally opening fire hydrants.

Illegally opened fire hydrants release more than 1,000 gallons of water per minute and can reduce water pressure in neighborhoods making it difficult to fight fires. After a dozen years of successful HEAT outreach campaigns, reports of illegally opened hydrants have fallen by more than 15 percent during June and July. Hydrants can be opened legally if equipped with a City-approved spray cap, which releases only 20 to 25 gallons per minute, ensuring adequate water pressure and reducing the risk that a child could be knocked over and injured by the force of the water. Spray caps can be requested by an adult 18 or over, free of charge, at local firehouses.

“By partnering with communities in northern Manhattan and the Bronx, we’ve seen a significant decrease in reports of illegally opened fire hydrants over the past decade,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “The HEAT program reminds New Yorkers that a City-approved spray cap is the safe and legal way to use hydrants to cool off during the hot summer months. The young participants in the program are helping keep their neighbors and our first responders safe.”

“Strong water pressure is critical to fighting fires, and the Department of Environmental Protection’s HEAT program has helped ensure our Firefighters have that precious resource when battling dangerous fires during the hottest months of the year,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “New Yorkers in communities throughout the city can request a spray cap from their nearest firehouse to ensure that children and those cooling off from the heat do so safely.”

Opening a hydrant illegally can result in fines of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to 30 days, or both. New Yorkers are urged to report illegally opened fire hydrants to 311 immediately.

A better way to beat the heat this summer is to check out one of over 600 spray showers in City parks (many of which are now equipped with water-saving timers and push buttons), take a dip in one of the City’s 53 outdoor pools, enjoy more than 14 miles of City beaches, or visit a cooling center, offered in neighborhoods citywide during heatwaves.

The HEAT program is run in partnership with the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBRO) and deploys four teams of 10 -12 young adults who distribute literature, posters, and other informational materials about fire hydrant safety at community events, parades, greenmarkets, churches, and libraries. The outreach campaign focuses on neighborhoods in northern Manhattan and the Bronx that have historically seen high rates of unauthorized fire hydrant use during heat waves. In addition to literature, the teams will distribute reusable water bottles and other souvenirs that promote the safe operation of fire hydrants.

“The HEAT program helps nearly 50 of our Summer Youth Employment Program participants learn the invaluable skill of leadership by educating their neighbors on the environmental and safety hazards of fire hydrant misuse. HEAT instills confidence and empowers our young people to become advocates in their communities,” said Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong.

“The Hydrant Education Action Team (HEAT) Program continues to make a positive impact in the lives of Bronx and Manhattan residents by educating them on safe and legal ways to enjoy the fire hydrants during the hot summer months. The HEAT program’s purpose is not to stop New York City’s summer tradition of keeping cool with fire hydrants, but to advocate for the use of spray caps for an enjoyable summer for everyone! The youth responsible for educating the community on fire hydrant safety learns a wonderful lesson in community advocacy, they are given an important role in their community, which helps them develop leadership and advocacy skills for their future,” said SoBRO HEAT Coordinator Sandy Ramirez.

SoBro, a not-for-profit community development corporation, has been serving the South Bronx since 1972. SoBro’s programs include adult education and workforce training, real estate and community development, technical and financial assistance for businesses, and an array of programs for youth. For additional information about SoBro, visit

DYCD, supports New York City’s afterschool and youth workforce development programs throughout the five boroughs. The agency also oversees funding for anti-poverty programs, such as adult literacy and immigrant services. For more information, please go to or follow DYCD on Facebook and Twitter..

FDNY is the largest Fire Department in the United States and universally is recognized as the world’s busiest and most highly skilled emergency response agency. The Department’s main goal is to provide fire protection and other critical public safety services to residents and visitors in the five boroughs. The Department also works to continually educate the public in fire, life safety and disaster preparedness, along with enforcing public safety codes. Since its inception in 1865, FDNY has helped lead efforts to make New York the safest big city in the nation. This accomplishment requires a steadfast and daily commitment to maintaining the Department's core values. To that end, FDNY members are sworn to serve and protect life and property. For more information, visit or follow FDNY on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing approximately 1 billion gallons of high-quality drinking water each day to more than 9.6 million residents, including 8.6 million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 in the upstate watershed. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $20.1 billion in investments over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.