Owning a pool is awesome until you realize just how long it can take to fill one up. Then you’re going to start looking for people with high pressure hoses and lots of water – like the fire department. But is it OK to ask your fire department to fill your pool?
Firefighters can fill up your pool, but they rarely will. Most fire departments don’t have the time to do so. If you contact your local fire department about this be prepared for them to say “no” or to charge a reasonable fee for doing so, this fee will typically be given to charity.
Not only will we tackle the question of whether firefighters will fill up your pool but we also look at whether you can use a fire hydrant to fill up your pool and whether firefighters have a right to take water from your pool in an emergency.
Your # 1 priority is keeping your family safe. As a firefighter, I recommend everyone has updated smoke detectors that don’t require battery changes, like these ones from Kidde, a fire extinguisher, like this one from Amerex, and a fire escape ladder if you have bedrooms above the first floor, I recommend this one from Hausse.
Will Firefighters Fill Up Your Pool?
We’ve already established that firefighters can fill up your pool but it’s a much better idea to determine if they will fill up your pool and, sadly, in the majority of cases the answer to that question is going to be “no”.
This is not because your local fire department is unwilling to do so. In fact, there are some very sound reasons for firefighters not to fill up your pool.
Reasons That They Will Probably Not Fill Up Your Pool
There are 3 main reasons that your local fire department are not likely to want to fill up your pool:
- The cost of their time. A fire truck and crew don’t come cheaply. Most cities and municipalities don’t have massive spare budgets that allow firefighters to sit around and enjoy plenty of leisure time at the city’s expense. Sending out a fire crew to fill a pool is an expensive thing to do.
- The equipment and expertise are needed elsewhere. Because cities don’t tend to have the budget for firefighters to sit around – most of the time, firefighters are required to work and work hard. Their equipment and expertise are required to save lives and that takes priority over your pool.
- It would set a precedent. While filling up the occasional pool might be OK, in the long run, it might send out a message to the public that the fire department is responsible for filling pools. This would end up creating friction between the fire service and the public because without a large additional investment – most fire services can’t spend all day, every day filling pools.
The Time When They Might Fill It
Having said that, I have heard of a couple of fire departments that will fill up your pool (for a fee) and they do it because they are under-utilized and because it allows them to raise additional funds for the service and for the city. They typically charge about $200 per 7,000 gallons pumped, which may not sound like much but for an ordinary sized pool – you may need 30,000 gallons!
However, it’s important to note that these fire departments are the exception and not the norm.
One Key Message: Never Call 911 About Having A Pool Filled
We need to be really clear about something else here too. It’s OK to call your local fire department and ask the question about whether they will fill your pool. (Never hurts to ask.)
It’s absolutely not OK, though, to dial 911 to ask this question. 911 is for emergency use only and filling your pool is not and never will be an emergency. Calling 911 for any other reason than an emergency can put other people’s lives at risk.
Can I Use A Fire Hydrant To Fill My Pool?
In terms of the question as it stands, yes, you could technically use a fire hydrant to fill a pool. That’s because technically it is possible to use a fire hydrant to pump large volumes of water quickly into a swimming pool.
It’s a bad question though because the right question should be, “Is it OK to use a fire hydrant to fill my pool?” and the answer to that question is categorically, “No. It’s not OK. In fact, it’s an absolutely terrible idea and it could end up causing you an injury or worse.”
The Three Main Reasons Not To Use A Fire Hydrant To Fill My Pool
There are three good reasons that you really don’t want to fill a pool using a fire hydrant:
- The volume of water that can come out of a fire hydrant is much higher than that pumped through a standard hose. That means it’s going to come out a much higher pressure than you might be expecting, and it can knock you off your feet and it can damage the equipment that you connect to it.
- Closing a fire hydrant is a practiced skill. It might sound ridiculous, but you can just shut off a fire hydrant on demand. In fact, if you close the hydrant too quickly – you can either dislodge the hydrant permanently from the street-side fitting or even worse you might burst the pipes below the hydrant. As you might expect, cities don’t look favorably on people who wreck a hydrant and the resulting mess might also be hazardous to passersby. You don’t want to hurt yourself, your community or anyone else.
- If you are caught using a hydrant even if you don’t cause problems when opening and closing it – you may be charged with the theft of services from your local community. This can result in a substantial fine, possibly jail time and a criminal record. There are definitely better ways to fill your pool than to use a fire hydrant.
So, there you have it. It’s never a good idea to use a fire hydrant to fill a pool. It’s not designed for that purpose and you risk harming yourself, the hydrant, others and you risk your future with a possible criminal record. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.
Do Firefighters Take Water From Pools For Firefighting?
There is no legally established right for firefighters to take water from your pool to tackle a blaze but if you try to interfere with a firefighter doing so, you’re in an ethically terrible position.
It’s a very rare thing for firefighters to need access to this much water outside of their normal use and it’s normally only done in the face of forest fires. Interfering with firefighting efforts of this nature can cause the loss and destruction of huge amounts of property and can even cost lives.
It’s no joke. If a firefighter needs your pool water – let them have it.
For more information about where firefighters get water, read: Water Sources: Where Firefighters Get Their Water
The Australian Static Water Program
In Australia, because of the severe bush fires raging throughout the country which can endanger any place at any time, they have developed the static water program.
This is a government sponsored program which encourages householders to register their pools and other large sources of water so that they can be used in times of emergency.
Participation in this program is completely voluntary but it is very popular and pool water has been used, successfully, to help divert raging bushfires from residential areas and to protect the people who live in them.
As yet, there is no American equivalent of this program but it is possibly only a matter of time after some of the record forest fire seasons that have been witnessed here in the last decade or so.
Can firefighters fill up your pool? Of course, they could fill up your pool because they have hoses and access to a water supply. However, in the majority of cases, they aren’t available to fill up pools because their labor and equipment are required to fight fires and save lives.
Some fire departments do offer a pool filling service and they charge a fee for this. Never use 911 to contact a fire department about this.
You should also be aware that using a fire hydrant to fill a pool is a very bad idea (it may be illegal) and that it’s a good idea to let firefighters use your pool water in an emergency.