GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404
1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204
You see fire hydrants all over town, at least every 500 feet. Yet, most people don’t give them much thought unless there’s a blazing fire nearby.
Hydrants are typically reserved for the fire bureau to tap, but the Portland Water Bureau also issues temporary and annual permits to contractors/developers in need of on-site water. There are actually many hydrant uses: mixing cement, landscaping, pressure washing, drilling. There are also many community events that require our hydrants, like Art In the Pearl, Sand in the City, The Portland Marathon, and Portland’s many beer festivals.
Just a few years ago permit applicants were required to head downtown to submit applications and the cross the river to Interstate’s Meter Shop to be issued equipment. These permits were previously processed among all other permits by our Development Services staff. In 2008, in an effort to streamline the process, the bureau moved the Hydrant Permit Program to Interstate and dedicated a staff member to oversee the process.
Since Jack Finders became the bureau’s “hydrant guy,” he’s processed an average of 162 temporary permits and 42 annual permits over the past four years. Since Jack moved the program across the river to Interstate in 2008, he’s brought in $1 million in hydrant permit fees.Permit holders are encouraged to pay by credit card now, which cuts down on financial red tape. We’ve also increased the non-compliance fee from $1260 to $5,000 (after a single warning), which has reduced the number of infractions.
Beyond financial and process improvements, having a point person to coordinate the hydrant permits has helped reduce the number of dirty water calls. We used to have a lot more calls due to improper hydrant use, especially on small mains. Jack works to educate hydrant users about how to properly hook up a hydrant and use equipment properly. He examines hydrants in advance of issuing the permit to make sure it will work for the given use. He reminds people that our primary goal is compliance, in order to protect the water system. He checks in on permit holders about once a week, and although he is very friendly, permit holders know he means business.
What can you do to help protect Portland’s fire hydrants? If you see anything suspicious, please call Dispatch immediately: 503-823-4874. Report the hydrant location, business name (if possible), and license plate number. They’ll forward the information to Jack, and he’ll track them down.
Check the webpage for more details about proper/improper hydrant use:
Community Involvement and Information