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Regulations on Fire Hydrants

Reference Number: MTAS-1895
Reviewed Date: 10/02/2023

Tennessee Water Regulations
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) regulations affect the way any fire department uses fire hydrants connected to a public water system.  The current TDEC regulations took effect on February 17, 2019 and follow the 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act.  TDEC regulations emphasize the protection of the public water supply and the prevention of introducing pollutants and contaminants into water systems.

The original rules in Tennessee were adopted in June 1974, and have changed several times over the past 48 years. On October 29, 2005, TDEC adopted state water regulations requiring all communities having or installing water systems to protect the system against contamination and to identify fire hydrants connected to the system. These rules are from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Bureau of Environment – Division of Water Supply. The Rules and Regulations are issued under the authority of Public Acts of 1983, Chapter 324 where the Division of Water Supply is responsible for the supervision of all public water systems.

The purpose of these Rules and Regulations is to provide guidelines for the interpretation of T.C.A. § 68-221-701 et seq. and to set out the procedures to be followed by the department in carrying out the State’s primary enforcement responsibility under the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

The rules apply to all public water supply systems that provide water for human consumption through pipes or other constructed conveyances, if such system has at least 15 service connections or regularly serves an average of at least 25 individuals daily at least 60 days out of the year.

According to the revised rule Paragraph (18) of Rule 0400-45-1-.17 Operations and Maintenance, all community water systems planning to or having installed hydrants must protect the system from contamination. All water mains designed for fire protection must be six inches or larger and be able to provide 500 gallons per minute with 20 pounds per square inch residual pressure. Fire Hydrants shall not be installed on water mains less than six inches in diameter or on water mains that cannot produce 500 gpm at 20-psi residual pressure unless the tops are painted red. Out of service hydrants shall have tops painted black or covered with a black shroud or tape.

Existing Class C hydrants (hydrants unable to deliver a flow of 500 gpm at a residual pressure of 20 psi) were required to have their tops painted red by January 1, 2008.

Also beginning January 1, 2008, the water system must provide notification by certified mail at least once every five years, to each fire department that may have reason to utilize the hydrants, that fire hydrants with tops painted red (Class C Hydrants) cannot be connected directly to a pumper fire truck. Fire Departments may be allowed to fill booster tanks on any fire apparatus from an available hydrant by using the water system’s available pressure only (fire pumps shall not be engaged during refill operations from a Class C hydrant).

The complete list of TDEC rules is available online at the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website.