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Lowry hydrant and the like...

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  • Lowry hydrant and the like...

    Was wondering if anyone out there has any information on the Lowry hydrants used in Boston. Are they still in use and if so, what are the pitfalls of this device?

    A local inventor in my area has come up with an allegedly 'innovative' product. A hydrant that connects to the water main in the middle of the street via a Storz connection below grade.

    As one can imagine, there are a whole host of issues that make this device impractical, but sadly enough it has the ears of local politicians and government leaders. All they see is the $$$ savings by eliminating a few parking spots where above-ground hydrants used to be.

    There is a laundry list of issues such as ice/snow, weight of the connection, blocking the street so no more apparatus can enter, etc., etc.

    Just wondering some experiences from Boston FF's who might still be using the Lowry hydrant on some of those tight Boston streets.

  • #2
    Ironically, my last name is Lowry, so I am interested in this...anyone have anything?


    • #3
      I don't know about the lowry hydrant but if I rember right in europe possibly england they use a system close to what you are describing in the street but I think it is actualy under the sidewalk? someone over there might be able to help you. also if rember right the connection is not a stortz it is the old type of the name i can't rember now but has a hook on each side. I know they sound different but the principle is the same.
      the truth never hides for long


      • #4

        Just some historical information to pass along. Springfield, Ohio also used Lowry hydrants. In the history of the SFD that was published in 1978 "From Buckets to Diesels" they have photos of a Lowry hydrant being connected.

        A portion of the caption reads "Instead of the post hydrant now used, a connection was placed in the street and covered with a cap. When firefighters wished to use a hydrant, they took the Lowry hydrant from the hose reel, where it was carried, and connected it to the fitting provided. After the Lowry was tightened by screwing it in place, the water was obtained by opening the center valve. The other four valves controlled the flow of water out of the individual outlets"

        If you would like to see a picture of a Lowry hydrant (like some residents of Youngstown), go to http://www.firehydrant.org/index.shtml
        then click on the hydrant pictures link. Once you are in the picture section you can see a Lowry under the former hydrant manufacturers section. This is a really interesting web site as I couldn't believe the variety of hydrants that exist.

        One last thing. Who wants to pull up on a worker and the first thing you have to do is take the time to connect your hydrant and then connect your suction? Somebody needs to tell your town council that this "new" idea died 100 years ago. Another thing, if your portable hydrant would break for some reason, do you call and ask the factory for a replacement while the building burns?

        Hope this was useful.

        Cincinnati F.D. History Site
        Society for the Preservation & Appreciation of Antique Fire Apparatus in America
        Youngstown Fire Forums - 40,000+ photos of Apparatus, Fire Scenes, etc.


        • #5

          Thanks for the info. I was also on firehydrant.org and amazed at the sheer number of different hydrant types. The direct link to the Lowry hydrant is http://www.firehydrant.org/pictures/lowry.html That's interesting you note that Springfield, OH used these hydrants over 100 years ago as well. Of all places to utilizes such a device, any climate that is subject to harsh winters is hardly ideal.

          Keep the info coming as I'm trying to gather constructive 'cons' for this device in an attempt to deflate its momentum.

          To all, be safe!


          • #6
            WELL, Boston still has 'em and I think Baltimore used ta. I remember talking to an old Boston Jake who told me the thing is about 80 pounds and a bastard to hook up. he also said that ya had to be careful about the thing getting clipped by the motoring public as the connection is right in the middle of the intersection. You pulled the cover off with a bar and it exposed the threads. You then screwed the hydrant onto the threads and used the center stem to open the valve to the barrel. This created a wet barrel hydrant and there were individual stems for each discharge. He said that you had to be careful as the water pressure would shoot the operating stem up and knock your teeth out with the pressure. The Lowery hydrant or "Chuck" as it was called was on the domestic water system downtown anlong with the high pressure system in Boston and wasn't used very often. If you can find an old copy of 48 Hours, 10 Engine used a Lowery Chuck on the Chinese Factory fire. It in the pic's and "The Commish" by Leo Stapleton also has the stills. by Bill Noonan by the way. Great Shots.

            [ 11-09-2001: Message edited by: John_Ford ]


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