Beyond the news: Public Works waving the flag

Buffalo Grove’s Public Works Department is waving the flag over fire safety. Especially when it comes to fire hydrants.

           Concerns about damage to fire hydrants during snow removal led public works to continue adding metal flags to the village’s 2,700 fire hydrants, a program that started last year. Recently installed flags (shown at left) are accentuated with a highly visible reflector on top so hydrants can be easily spotted after dark. 

           While it appears that more hydrants are getting the metal flags, Assistant Public Works Director Kyle Johnson notes that  “flags have always been put on hydrants that were along high traffic and wide roads.”  He adds that flags are also on hydrants “that are near corners that have a risk of being hit or buried under the snow.  We now have moved to place them in more areas as our snow plan has shifted to include “benching”, an operation that pushes the snow pile back away from the curb into the parkway.”

            The installation of hydrant flags does more than protect the hydrants, it makes it easier for snow plow operators. “Given our wing trucks now push more snow with each pass into the parkways we want to be sure snow-plow operators always see where hydrants are.”

            The flags cost about $17 per hydrant which includes installation. The ongoing project is part of DPW’s annual budget. Now in its second year, Jim Warnstedt, also an assistant director of public works, noted in an email that DPW is “strategically installing the flags on our hydrants per our wing blade routes, but will eventually be putting flags on all hydrants pending costs.  Last winter we installed roughly 600 flags on our hydrants.”

            While the Fire Department and Public Works encourage residents to clear snow from hydrants after significant snow falls, Johnson says residents can help during other seasons as well. “Every hydrant has an auxiliary valve box (shown at left) within a few feet of it which allows the hydrant to be turned off for maintenance when required,” he says. “Sometimes these boxes are on hard surfaces (as shown), but when they are on grass some residents put topsoil and grass over the top of them.  This requires us to have to search for them and dig them up when doing maintenance.”

            Residents who think they may have a valve box on their lawn and want it located, can call Public Works at  (847) 459-2545.


            Editor’s note:  “Beyond the News” is a new feature of Buffalo Grove News and Information that features stories about people, places, organizations in the village. Got an idea? Email it to  Please include contact information. 


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