Blake Brown, 16, organized a work party to install reflectors in the street marking the locations of all 241 fire hydrants in Heflin. His brother, Justin Haynes, 17, organized a work party to paint the fire hydrants in a color code designating the gallons-per-minute flow of each of the hydrants.
Color-coded fire hydrants allow firefighters to quickly know whether a hydrant has enough water to serve their purposes.
“According to how much flow we need, we may have to hook up to two hydrants,” said Heflin Fire Chief Jonathan Adams.
Or, if the fire is between two hydrants, they can choose the one with the most water flow, he added.
The reflectors are also important especially for night fires when the hydrants may be harder to spot, Adams said.
“We know where most of them are by memory,” Adams said, adding with a laugh, “But my memory doesn’t work as well in the middle of the night.”
Carried out at the suggestion of the Heflin Water Works and Sewer Board works manager Donald Dewberry, the boys’ projects benefit not only the Heflin Fire Department, but also the whole community. Adams said the work the boys did has been on his wish list for a while. By bringing the department in line with National Fire Protection Association standards, the project could also help local homeowners save a little money on their insurance. The color coding is an Insurance Services Office requirement and that office helps determine insurance rates, Adams said.
The projects are about demonstrating leadership and giving back to the community, Haynes said. Both of the brothers said they found out that leadership isn’t always easy.
“It probably took us two weeks’ worth of planning to get it all set up,” Haynes said.
They had to use flow charts detailing the flow of the hydrants provided by the water works, map the locations of the fire hydrants, group them by location and create territories for work parties. Haynes also had to create a system to let the work parties know what color each fire hydrant should be painted. They both ended up recruiting a couple dozen volunteers for each of their projects and the work took a full weekend to complete, the brothers said.
But they found that leading the project meant they were the ones who had to make sure everything was done and done properly.
“One problem that we had was that some people weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing,” Brown said. “Then we had to go back and redo what they messed up.”
But it was a small price to pay, they said, to know that they had contributed something of value to the community.
“Once we started doing it, it meant more to us,” Haynes said. “Because we realized and understood why it needed to be done.”
Knowing that the reflectors could save firemen valuable time in a fire emergency is gratifying, he said.
Dewberry said the water board provided the materials for the boys’ projects.
“My men could have done this, but this is helping them get their Eagle,” Dewberry said. “They did a good job.”
The two boys still have to write up a report on their projects and fill out the application for Eagle Scout, said Gary Wright, an assistant scoutmaster for Heflin’s Troop 206. If the boys are awarded Eagle Scout status, they will become the 92nd and 93rd Eagle Scouts from the Heflin troop. The first Troop 206 Eagle Scout, Franklin Owen, was awarded in 1944 or 1945, he said.
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-463-2872. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.