A former New York firefighter is launching a second career as a designer of new fire hydrant technology. The conventional hydrant has remained virtually unchanged for more than a century, but George Sigelakis says his new system gives the fire hydrant a much needed makeover. Elly Park has more.
The humble fire hydrant has a new look and a new design. Firefighter Sam Pinto says it's a vast improvement over the old system. (Natsot - "..and that's all you do" - water gush) The Sigelock Spartan hydrant is the creation of former new York City firefighter George Sigelakis. Conventional hydrant design has remained unchanged for more than century, but Sigelakis says a new system was needed. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GEORGE SIGELAKIS, FOUNDER AND CREATOR OF SIGELOCK SPARTAN SYSTEM, SAYING: "The problem with a regular hydrant is if you use it more than a few times, it starts to break down, and if you don't use it at all it ceases up and starts to break down." The Sigelock is designed to operate reliably over time, in all weathers, resisting freezing temperatures and the corrosive affects of salt water. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GEORGE SIGELAKIS, FOUNDER AND CREATOR OF SIGELOCK SPARTAN SYSTEM, SAYING: "That is because of the materials we use inside it. So it's a ductile iron, which is seven times stronger than they gray iron. Then it's zinc coated and powder coated so there is no moisture or water content, tuberculation inside that hydrant." Another common problem with conventional hydrants is unauthorized access - costing taxpayers millions of dollars in wasted water and firefighter response time per year. The Spartan addresses this problem with a tamper-proof casing and a nozzle that only a special wrench can open. It requires an extra step, but Sam Pinto says it's worthwhile. In his Long Beach Precinct, more than a hundred Spartans are in the ground. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SAM PINTO, FIREFIGHTER, SAYING: "There is less times when there actually is an issue with the structure of itself and that's when things are harder to use. When things are broken it takes more time to work with. But now that these are a bit more easier maintained, safer, it's actually to use these new hydrants." While the Spartan costs 20 to 30 percent more than a conventional model, Sigelakis believes its minimal maintenance costs make it less expensive in the long term. And he says, the fact it comes in a choice of colors, makes it a very attractive investment for any community.