Why are there different fire hydrant designs? Is it important?

Yes, in fact this is very important both from a Fire Fighter standpoint and from a municipal water stand point.

You may notice that some hydrants have larger ports then others. Sometimes these smaller ported hydrants are used to help ensure that the fire department doesn’t attempt to draw out more water then the main in that section can handle. The trucks can draw enough that weaker piping could be collapsed under the negative pressure generated by the draw.

Another reason for the different designs is climate and location. Away from the equator we have to contend with the ground freezing issues. So water mains must be below the frost line. This would be defeated if the water then came up the barrel of the hydrant. So the hydrants with the valve bolt on the top actually extends well below frost line and opens a valve down there. This ensures we don’t freeze and crack the main. In places with warmer climates, this is unnecessary and infact the main may be closer to the surface due to swamp conditions or other such factors.

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