Growing Plants Next to Fire Hydrants And Painting Hydrants

Author: Captain Ninetta Violante

Important note:

Hydrants have to be flushed and the flow must be measured to ensure they work when they are needed.  We understand that flowing these hydrants can occasionally discolor household water.  For the next several weeks, please check for clarity of your water prior to laundering white clothing. If it is discolored, let your water run until clear before allowing the washing machine to fill.


Hydrants must be easily visible to arriving fire vehicles.

Painting Hydrants
You may have seen some City of Decatur Fire Fighters out painting and servicing hydrants.Fire Hydrant with Blue Top We usually do this twice a year. The hydrants in Decatur are painted according to the Insurance Services Offices and according to NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) 291, it says fire hydrants using public water supply systems should be painted chrome, and their tops and caps should indicate the available GPM. Below 500GPM should be red, 500-999 GPM should be orange, 1000-1499 GPM should be green, and 1500 GPM or more should be blue. This usually signifies the size of the pipes underneath.

Some of the hydrants will have a black cap on the side which informs the firefighters that they need to turn the top in the opposite direction to open the hydrant. It is critical that the firefighters see this so if a resident paints over the color of the cap or the top of the hydrant, it could greatly affect fire operations. Hydrants must be easily visible to arriving fire vehicles.

Planting Next To Hydrants
When firefighters arrive at a fire, they must quickly and easily locate the nearest fire hydrants. Most U.S. municipalities regulate what can be planted or placed near hydrants. They warn property owners not to obscure hydrants or impede access to them with plants, fences, walls, cars and the like. Imagine a firefighter arriving at night and having to waste valuable time cutting away brush to find a hydrant.
Fire Codes
In general, municipal fire codes require property owners to maintain a clearance of about 3 feet around fire hydrants. Shrubs, trees, fruit, vegetables and flowers are not to be planted inside that area. This doesn’t mean that nothing can be planted there, but that the plants you choose need to be low-growing so they won’t obscure visibility or access to the hydrant in any way.
Allowable Plants
Ground covers that grow nearly flat to the ground, such as creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum), hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8, are usually allowed next to hydrants, but lawn grass around a hydrant is required by the property owner to keep it mowed short. Mulching around the hydrant with bark is another option. The property owner is responsible for clearing away fall leaves and other debris that collect near the hydrant. From experience, I can say that planting shrubs or plants that have thorns and sharp leaves next to a hydrant is simply cruel.
Fire-Safe Choices
Along with being low-growing, plants near a fire hydrant should be fire-resistant, especially in areas with high fire danger, such as near woods or grassland. Fire-resistant plants usually have thick, moisture-retentive, green leaves and thin sap and don’t tend to accumulate dead leaves or wood. Possibilities include ice plant (Delosperma cooperi), which grows in USDA zones 6 through 10, and bugleweed (Ajuga reptans), which is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 10A.
Hydrant Maintenance
Fire departments need to consistently maintain hydrants so they will function correctly when needed. This includes flushing, inspecting, cleaning, painting and repairing. The workers who maintain the hydrants will need to walk, probe and possibly dig around the hydrant, so any plants there are likely to be routinely damaged. While lawn grass stands up best to such treatment, plants suitable for planting between paving stones for pathways also tolerate some foot traffic. Choices include acaena (Acaena spp.), hardy in USDA zones 7 through 9, and beach strawberry (Fragraria chiloensis), hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9.

Some information gathered from
If you have questions or concerns about any matters regarding these topics, please call the City of Decatur Fire Marshal at 678-553-6583.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Recently Decatur Fire has offered promotional exams to fill several vacant spots within the organization. While we intend to go into greater detail about each of the newly promoted personnel (we already started with FAO Bostic in our last entry) we will take a moment to mention and congratulate them all at this time.

We had three personnel successfully complete the testing for Fire Apparatus Operator. This is the person responsible for safely driving the crew to an incident, spotting the apparatus properly, operating the pump and hydraulics, and safely and effectively utilizing the aerial ladder. These three personnel were (pictured left to right), FAO Bostic, FAO Curtis and FAO Alexander.

bostic curtis alexander

We also had two personnel promoted to Lieutenant, a position that is responsible for training, supervision, scene operations and filling in for the Captains in their absence. These two personnel were Lt. Sardine and Lt. Menard (pictured below left to right).


Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

New Promotions! Part I-FAO Adam Bostic

Testing for Fire Apparatus Operator is taking on enormous responsibilities and commitments. We have three newly promoted FAOs to introduce, starting with FAO Adam Bostic.

In his own words, “I’ve been working in EMS for five years. I love working in Decatur because of the friendly and involved community environment. I feel great about this promotion and I will stop at nothing to become the best FAO I can be. I’ve been serving Decatur for two years and I look forward to spending many more in this community.”

Image Image-2Image-1

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Deputy Chief and Fire Marshal Stephanie Harpring accepts position at City of Thornton Fire Department



By Captain Violante

“I think the moment she stepped into the station we knew Stephanie Burton (maiden Stephanie and Nephewsname) was serious about her career. Everyone felt like they better push themselves a little to keep up with the new hire. She came from Valdosta and had experience. She came in ready to work.
But she also had an infectious playful side. She kept you on point while making you laugh. Everyone smiles, laughs, and wants a hug from her. You want to be by her side.

What many may not realize about Chief Stephanie Harpring is: her devotion to Janet Jackson is strong, her Diana Ross karaoke impression is stellar, her mad cooking abilities like grilled chicken or ham and beans, a respect and grateful attitude to her mother, her sincere love of her wife and kids, and her uncanny ability to keep the spark going.

Stephanie teachingShe started as a firefighter, went to driver, fire Marshal and Deputy Chief. Most chiefs in the state of Georgia know who she is. Chief Harpring wore two very difficult hats for the last several years. She was fire Marshal -covering plan reviews, prevention, inspections, and investigations. And she was also Deputy Chief – handling personnel matters, operations, trucks, training, and public events. Chief also caught a lot of the stuff that fell in the gaps.

Not only will she be missed by her fire family but every city employee that has ever Stephanie and Ladiesengaged with her will feel a loss to some degree. Stephanie is being hired as the Fire Marshal for the City of Thornton outside of Denver, Colorado. They are excited to have someone who can handle so many issues and saw the value as Stephanie dealt with the City of Decatur’s recent growth. Her last day will be March 20th and she will begin her new job on March 27th. Her family will move after the end of the school year.

14469645_1160060887410146_5628597395198380135_nChief Harpring looks forward to hiking, biking, and ‘attempting’ to ski or snowboard. Stephanie will do exceptionally well in her new position. She loves a challenge and the chance to grow. Stephanie will be missed by many but she is no more than a phone call away.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Captain Violante Selected to Present at 2017 Fire-Rescue International Conference


Fire Rescue International has always been an exciting educational opportunity for emergency service professionals from all over the world. The conference is sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and designed to utilize experts in the industry to develop excellence in fire officers. For Decatur Fire, this year’s expo will be even more exciting. Decatur Fire’s own Captain Violante has been selected to present her submission, “Winning Psychology of Fire Officers.” In her own words, she describes how her presentation was inspired by a book her nephew read in college.

“The Inner Game of Tennis is a book I read. My nephew is a the state champ wrestler and had to read it in college for a psychology class. As an athlete and fire officer, I saw how the concepts of the book would have helped me immensely had I read it in my youth. The part of the book that applies to fire officers deals with how our two selves communicate with one another and affect our performance. In addition, if we understand how we operate, disciplining, taking command, day to day operations can improve. As a Western culture, we are practice so many catch phrases, like ‘don’t mess up again, come on you can do this.’ Instead of focusing on the emotional side of improvement, if we look at the factual side, and use our training, better outcomes are sure to occur. Does that make sense? We should instead say, ‘I (or you) need to change x ,y, and z to get the better outcome.’ It has nothing to do with who you are as a person. If you begin to focus on insecurities and personal issues, you will psych yourself out and become distracted from accomplishing the task. This is obviously a struggle for me and I work hard in retraining myself.”

This year’s conference will be held in Charlotte, NC from the 26th-29th and Captain Violante has not yet received the exact day for her presentation, but has been awarded a complimentary Core Education or Officer Development pass. When the exact day of her presentation is determined, members of her Decatur Fire family are hoping to make the trip up to support her and cheer her on. She has certainly made us proud by receiving this recognition!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Making a Change

The career of a firefighter is one of the most physically taxing and rewarding jobs in thefile1 world. You have the rare opportunity to help people in their time of need while receiving the respect and support of your community. I have been a firefighter for six years; three years as a volunteer in Metter, GA and three years as a full-time firefighter at Riverdale Fire Services. There comes a time in some firefighters careers where we make a change/switch departments due to multiple reasons. On November 22nd of 2016 I was blessed with the opportunity to become a firefighter for the Decatur Fire Department.

file3In my six years as a firefighter I have experienced three departments with totally different visions and daily functions. One difference I noticed immediately was the structure and morale of my crew. 7:30 am, I walk into the training office for morning muster as my fellow firefighters great each other with hugs, handshakes and smiles ready to meet any challenge headed their way. Our Captains have already structured our entire shift with all training, community activities, and truck assignments for each crew member. The fact that my role and responsibilities for the next 24 hours are already in place is great. It allows us to focus on the task at hand and prepare for the planned events as well as the unknown calls to which we will respond.

The most important change to me is the vision. Chief Washington as well as the other madsen coreyleaders at Decatur Fire Department want me to thrive as not only a firefighter but as a servant to my community. They are not only receptive to new idea and perspectives but they encourage them. Having a positive and supportive crew and vision that resonates with your desires not only makes your working environment enjoyable, it propels you forward due to the support of your peers. It makes you want to excel beyond their expectations of you and make them proud.

Firefighter Kelvonte Byrd

Firefighter Byrd has been with Decatur Fire and Rescue for three months now.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meet Your Decatur Firefighters: Lieutenant Jeremy Storey

My name is Jeremy Storey and I was born in SW Atlanta, GA; I moved to Decatur,untitled Georgia      at the age of six, where I was raised. I attended Redan High school, then went to GA Perimeter College, where I received my associate’s degree in Fire Management. I then attended Georgia State University and received a bachelor’s degree in business. My career in the fire service began in 2005 with the City of Atlanta. I have two brothers, one sister and one daughter. My hobbies are reading, sports and physical training!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meet Your CAPS Members: Roger Schuppert

We urge everyone to take a moment to check out this edition of “Meet Your CAPS Members.” Anyone who has been to an community event or met CAPS knows Roger. He would help anyone with anything, anytime. We’ve left Mr. Schuppert’s words as he wrote them because they give us some great insight into the life of a fascinating and accomplished community member.

“I have led many lives. Born Feb 14, 1947 in Milwaukee, moved around, spent my high school years in a little Texas town called Floydada and after graduation we moved to 15253445_206173583171655_4587200515605739349_nWaycross, Georgia, a forgettable town close to the Florida border. Shortly after, I enlisted in the US Air Force and ended up in Vietnam where I worked as a civil engineer doing various things, including pest control; I even spent a short stint in the post office. Nam wasn’t the hellhole I pictured it to be and I even got to know some of the local people. I shot no one and no one shot me and I came back in one piece and for, some reason, received the Air Force Commendation Medal.
When I got back I needed to do something so I applied to college-I wanted UGA but they weren’t accepting applications, so it was Georgia State University for me, where I eventually received three degrees,_BA in English, 1972, Masters in Education, 1977, and Masters in Journalism, 2000. I also worked at GSU for 30 years and retired in 2003.
While at GSU I worked with some colleagues who had done theater and film work and they encouraged me to do it. I demurred for the longest time but finally took the plunge and auditioned for a show. I didn’t get the part but I became the props person-the person who has to find pieces of furniture or other things to use in the show; I also became the stage manager for the show. I discovered that I was naturally good at it and at the end of the show I was given an award for technical contribution. You can imagine my surprise when someone who has never done this before gets an award. From that moment on I knew this was something I wanted to do and I did it for 25 years, receiving two more technical awards. I did a little bit of almost everything, from props, to light board op, sound board op, stage manager,crew chief backstage and I even got to be onstage a few times. What I loved most and what I did most, however, was build the sets and take them down again after the show. Some of my finest memories and lasting friendships came from that experience. So that’s a third life.
During my time at GSU I also appeared as an extra in a few films here in Atlanta. It was a lot of waiting around but I got to meet some stars-Gary Busey, John Cassavettes, Lawrence Fishburne and others. Life number 4.
Also while at GSU, I wrote for the student newspaper and had many articles published, mostly about film and theater and I did that for 10 years. I’ve also had some biographical research papers published, so as you can see, I’ve had a busy life.
When I retired, I needed something else to make my life fulfilling, as if it hasn’t been already, so I heard about the CAPS, program, joined the police CAPS eight years ago and fire CAPS 4 years ago; its one of the greatest decisions of my life; it gives my life a purpose besides taking up space and using up food and water. I love doing this work and I love this town.
So there’s a little about me. I am by nature shy and withdrawn but joining this program has definitely made me more sociable.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Introducing Our Newest Firefighter, Sebastien Pean

file (4)25 year old FF. Sebastien Pean was born and raised in Haiti before moving to Miami, Florida where he attended Mater Lakes Academy High School. He later played college basketball in multiple states, but settled in Kansas City, Missouri where he graduated from Blue River Fire Academy in August of 2016.

Pean’s family consists of his mother, Alessandra Lemoire, and three sisters: Samantha, Corrine and Chloe. He also speaks French Creole and has moved to Georgia this August intending to start his career as a firefighter.

According to Pean “As a kid my mother always told me that if I knew how to start a fire, I better know how to put it out, and that stuck with me. My passion for the fire service is always in putting others first. I’ve always had that instinct for helping others, and the safety of others has always been a major thing for me. I couldn’t think of a better career to combine fire and safety into one.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Introducing the Third of Our Three New Firefighters- Dustin Kurucar

Firefighter Kurucar attended Fayette County High School, then went on to study at file2Southern Crescent Technical College for Fire and EMS. During this time he worked as a landscaper, and a waiter/cook/ driver for a few years as well. This is Kurucar’s first firefighter job, and in his words, “Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to be a firefighter. This was definitely my number one goal and dream.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment