Adrianne Ambrose observed, “Some people fight fire with fire. I’ve found water to be more effective.” I have to agree with Ms. Ambrose. Water is one of the most effective methods for putting out fires.
Long ago in Athens, GA, when the call of “FIRE” rang out, every man and boy ran first for a bucket, then to the fire. A line was formed from the nearest well or cistern to the fire and buckets of water were passed hand to hand.
With the transition to fire hydrants, we no longer have to organize bucket brigades to combat an inferno. We simply turn to these trusty little plugs and fight fire with water.
In downtown Athens, I can’t walk a block without seeing a fire hydrant. But I must admit I never really SEE a hydrant. Much the same as I absent-mindedly walk past manhole covers, electric poles, and drunk college students, I pass by these life-saving devices without giving them a second thought.
Not anymore. The Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities Department is about to put a spotlight on these little guys. Sixteen downtown Athens fire hydrants will be transformed into functional, life-saving, creative pieces of art in the Fire Up the Hydrants project.
You can help give these fire-fighting essentials the recognition they deserve. We currently have a call to artists. Submit a design sketch of a hydrant to the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office by August 5, 2016 at 5:00pm. Official guidelines, rules, and entry form are available at ThinkAtTheSink.com. Templates are also available as a reference, but are not required for a submission.
Fire Up the Hydrants is part of a dual celebration. The year 2016 marks the 80th year of clean water delivery service from the JG Beacham Drinking Water Treatment Plant. JG Beacham supplies the water that douses the flames.
The water you depend on for fire safety is the same treated drinking water that comes from the sink in your kitchen. It is the same water that keeps our economy flowing, protects your physical health, enhances your mental health, and produces your food. In fact, I argue that water is the most essential element with the greatest impact on a number of our daily activities. This brings us to the second reason for the celebration. We want to Celebrate the Value of Water.
By firing up our hydrants, we give our dependable water and plugs a plug. The 16 selected hydrants form a 2-mile route when walked in a specific order. We invite visitors to follow the H2.O Water Walk to see each piece of fantastic art. For those feeling especially energetic or reflective, walk the route twice. At 4-miles, you will have walked the average distance a person in a developing country walks every day to collect the water for their daily needs.
This walk serves as more than an opportunity to get in some exercise. It offers a moment to reflect on how important this liquid is in our lives. One can take some time to imagine a day without water. Or while taking a stroll you can recount how you used water prior to your walk, both directly and indirectly. Perhaps you made coffee, flushed a toilet, or brushed your teeth. Maybe you are wearing cotton, drove a car, or ate a banana. Water makes all of these instances possible. The JG Beacham Drinking Water Treatment Plant makes it so you don’t have to walk so far to get the water.
“Some people fight fire with fire. I’ve found water to be more effective.” I think combining fire and water will be effective. By the middle of October, our downtown mini water cannons take center stage. People visiting Athens to fire up the dawgs will see our fired up hydrants. The art serves as a reminder of our commitment to providing the city with fire protection. The pride we place in our clean water supply will be obvious to all. And, just maybe, a few people will take a moment to realize the value water brings to their life.
(Photos of completed hydrants from the Fire Up the Hydrants project will be added in October)