Safer Vale – Fire Hydrants / Fire Incidents


A previous acquaintance of mine moved to a new home consisting of a small holding in rural Wales and a discussion led to me giving some general fire safety advice for somebody living ‘off grid’. It struck me that many of the issues covered have relevance, to varying degrees, to residents of the Vale of Glamorgan whether in the rural vale or towns and hamlets. I would like to share that information.

You may think the following to be inappropriate or unnecessary as we have a professional Fire & Rescue Service that responds to these incidents, who we can rely upon, but it is well meant and designed to provoke thought and personal preparedness.

Do you know the location / availability of the fire hydrant near to your house? They can often get covered by the grass of the road verge and general road muck so you may wish to identify where your nearest hydrant is so you can use that information in an emergency. In addition if you, or others, do not know of its location you may inadvertently park over the top of it making it inaccessible for emergency use.

Historically, though fortunately not a frequent occurrence, emergency hydrants have even had tarmac laid over them by contractors carrying out highway repairs.

There are other issues relating to ‘fire emergencies’ and you may be on the case already but if not, here goes;

Have you considered your position / action in the event of a fire at your property?

  1. How far you are from an adopted road? You should certainly identify the location of the nearest fire hydrant – usually indicated by a ‘post and plate’ indicating the size of the main and the distance of the hydrant itself from the sign.(If you ever had to call the fire service then you are in a position to let them know where it is as, whilst they should know, they could lose valuable time locating it) (Fire appliances do carry a tank of water which will deal with most smaller incidents but need hydrants to supplement supplies when dealing with larger more protracted incidents).
  2. If there is no hydrant within a reasonable distance is there any ‘open water supply’ e.g. lake, pond stream which could be used by the fire service if necessary. Also is there a suitable ‘hard standing’ adjacent to the water source that will take the weight of a fire appliance for access and pumping.
  3. If the nearest fire station to you is some distance, not so common in the Vale, but some more rural areas are covered by retained (part-time) personnel so it could take some time for the fire service to respond so have you considered your potential for first aid firefighting eg some appropriate extinguishers and a fire blanket for the home and garage including a C02 for electrical fires, (and the ability / knowledge to use them). Also the provision of a garden hose which would be long enough to give you a continuous supply to fight a fire in its early stages. (Any fire extinguishers would require adequate maintenance and servicing). Of course you must never take any unnecessary personal risk if you do not feel capable or have sufficient knowledge to tackle even small fires including the knowledge as to what extinguishing media to use on various fire types.
  1. In regard to your personal safety have you got smoke alarms and a CO alarm in the house? These are basic necessities – seriously.
  2. Of course the best cure to any of the above is prevention so an annual inspection and safety check on potential hazards eg boiler’s whether LPG, gas or oil and if not done for some years a safety inspection of your electrical wiring. Then a view on where you store any hazardous materials like LPG, fuel, fertilizers, dense vegetation close to your property in dry spring / summer months including the use of BBQ’s etc. ie anything likely to become an ignition source or support the spread of any potential fire.
  3. Also, consider your plan of action should a fire occur in your home or its outbuildings. Consider most likely occurrence eg fire in the kitchen and discuss with your family what actions you might take and yes – even rehearse those actions as you may identify potential flaws or further queries. Don’t forget to consider day and night time scenarios.
  4. Of course you will likely be aware that the Fire and Rescue Service that serves your location has a duty to make arrangements for access and water supplies in relation to firefighting but with the ever increasing pressures and reduced funding on all public services anything you can do in providing information to emergency crews on arrival or on ‘first aid’ measures with a view to protecting yours and your neighbour’s property can only help.
  5. These same principles apply in relation to the location and availability of fire hydrants and some of the other items listed above in a village, hamlet or small town.
  6. If you contact South Wales Fire & Rescue Service (Community Safety Dept.) they would be happy to give you any advice and safety leaflets that they have, on a range of potential hazards, for people like yourselves who may be slightly further away from the built up town, village or hamlet environment than many and as such may need to consider some additional ‘first aid’ measures in the event of an unlikely emergency to protect themselves.
  7. If you are an elderly or vulnerable resident of South Wales the Fire Service will carry out a free and specific ‘Home Fire Safety Check’ at your property. They will visit your home by appointment and give relevant safety advice which may include the fitting of free smoke alarms where appropriate.


N.B. Of course, in this day and age, there is always a health warning – and you should never put yourself or others at risk if you do not feel entirely confident about taking any of the above proposed actions. If in doubt call the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service for their expert advice and guidance

If you have all the above in hand great. If not, the thought process and discussion which the above is intended to encourage will enhance your personal safety relating to a scenario that we hope will never happen to us in our lifetime – a bit like a ‘pandemic’.

Retired Fire Officer & resident St Lythans