Fire hydrants

Fire hydrants are used by fire and rescue services to provide a water supply in the vicinity of a fire. (Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service) GMFRS have approximately 32,000 fire hydrants spread throughout the city-region.

It is our responsibility to ensure that these hydrants are kept serviceable and available for use in the event of fire. They are located in public footways or highways.

Currently all our fire hydrants are inspected on an 18-month, three yearly or five yearly inspection programme to ensure that they are in a good state of repair. We are able to undertake some minor repairs and maintenance in-house but any major work that involves dismantling the fire hydrant or turning off the domestic water supply has to be undertaken by the water company.

Hydrant marker plates

Missing or defective hydrant marker plates are replaced by our Hydrant Mechanics. They are usually fitted to an adjacent wall, street furniture or an old style concrete post. The two numbers on the plate show the size of the water main and the approximate distance of the hydrant. In addition to marker plates, all hydrants are displayed on a computer in the cab of every GMFRS fire appliance so that the nearest hydrant can be located while the crew are on route to a fire call.

Any defects or queries, including missing hydrant marker plates, can be reported to GMFRS’s Water Team via the details below.

Reporting hydrant defects

Any defects on hydrants, such as leakage or a damaged cover, can be reported to GMFRS's Water Team via the details below. 

Hydrant obstruction

In the event of fire, it can be paramount that firefighters have access to water supplies quickly. Obstruction of fire hydrants, particularly inconsiderate parking, could place the lives of you, your family and your neighbours at risk. A person commits an offence if they damage or obstruct a fire hydrant and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £500 (Fire and Rescue Services Act Section 42).

Illegal use

It is illegal to use a fire hydrant to obtain water for purposes other than firefighting, unless authorised by the water authority or other person to whom the hydrant belongs. Unauthorised access to the hydrant pit is not allowed. Persons found to be using fire hydrants without the appropriate authorisation are liable to prosecution.

A person commits an offence if they damage or obstruct a fire hydrant and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £500 (Fire and Rescue Services Act Section 42). Water companies can license the use of their hydrants to third parties such as street cleaners. However, if you suspect a fire hydrant is being used illegally without permission you can either report it to our Water Team. The more information you can provide about the user (such as location, date, time, company name, vehicle license plate number or similar) the easier it is for us to investigate.

Private fire hydrants

Private fire hydrants are located on private water mains that are not the responsibility of the local water company or the fire and rescue service. These are generally located on large sites such as hospitals, military establishments, and industrial estates, but may also be installed to provide cover for specific risk properties. Private hydrants are the responsibility of the owners/occupiers on whose land they are installed and will not be maintained by either the water company or the Fire and Rescue Service. Private fire hydrants can be inspected and tested by GMFRS if required.

Private hydrants should be installed in accordance with the appropriate British standards and should be compatible with fire and rescue service equipment.

Where private hydrants are installed they should be tested and maintained and be in good working order by the responsible person(s), and GMFRS can help you meet these requirements if you are responsible for private fire hydrants. Please make enquiries using the details below.

Contact details

Post: The Water Officer, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Bolton Borough, Moor Lane, Bolton, BL3 5DB


Phone: 01204 905 159 or 0161 608 4040 (office hours Monday to Friday)