Oh, I just love stuff like this. Something completely flawed, obsolete and problematic has been supplanted by a much better iteration. But no one’s using it because we’re so heavily invested in the old piece of crap that we can’t justify the expense over all the benefits. Make sense? Of course, not.
New York City, with its dense population and endless skyscrapers, is notoriously difficult to fight fires in. Firefighters depend on nearly 100,000 hydrants to do their work, but many of these hydrants are in disrepair. Vulnerable to misuse and exposed to extreme weather, the city’s hydrants are decayed, leaking, and corroding. George Sigelakis, a retired New York City firefighter, understood the need for a hydrant redesign early on in his career. “A hydrant is a lifeline to a firefighter,” he says. “You can have manpower and millions of dollars worth of trucks and equipment, but without water out of a hydrant, you can’t do anything.”
Sigelakis decided to reinvent the hydrant, and started conceptualizing a new model in his basement. He deconstructed the traditional hydrant, analyzed it, and developed the next generation of hydrant design: the Sigelock Spartan. Virtually indestructible, the Spartan is made of stainless steel and ductile iron, and covered in a powder coating that makes the design non-corrosive even in the face of storms and salty water. An efficient internal drainage system prevents the damage that freezing water can inflict. The hydrant can be opened within seconds—but only with a special wrench, discouraging tampering. The Spartan is manufactured in Pennsylvania and comes with a fifty year warranty.
Despite its benefits, Spartan adoption is slow. “Municipalities have stockpiled parts for years,” says Joseph Kelly, the Senior Operations Officer at Sigelock Spartan. “When we approach them about this new technology, they understand the issues because they work on this everyday. But, they also have a lot of money invested in replacement parts.” Of course they do…