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June 13, 2024

MSU expert describes safety risks in fire hydrant thefts

Structural expert Venkatesh Kodur quoted in LA Times

Yellow Fire Hydrant
Faced with new safety features on hydrants, thieves have resorted to knocking them down with vehicles. Photo courtesy: Golden State Water Co.

Venkatesh Kodur was recently quoted on the impact of recent fire hydrant thefts in Los Angeles County, California.

The University Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering explained to the Los Angeles Times that the best opportunity to knock down a fire is the first 5 to 10 minutes, so any delay in fighting fires is crucial for fire safety in communities. Kodur said if fighting a fire is hindered by a missing hydrant, the flames spread more easily.

Professional headshot of Venkatesh Kodur
University Distinguished Professor Venkatesh Kodur

Typically, after 15 minutes, Kodur noted, “the damage and the fire grow almost exponentially ... and every second is important.”

The Los Angeles Times is covering the rash of fire hydrant thefts, which started last year and continues to grow in Los Angeles County. Hundreds of hydrants have been stolen to be sold as scrap metal at recycling centers. The brass in the hydrants is especially in demand.

Find out how California safety and utility officials are trying to outsmart the thieves in this story in the Los Angeles Times.