MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Along some of the major roads in the north metro, fire hydrants are covered in red plastic.

Craig and Rutheen from Brooklyn Center both noticed it and emailed WCCO wanting to know: Why? Good Question.

“We’ve had some calls from people asking what are the red bags around the hydrants,” says Michael Weber, public utilities supervisor for Brooklyn Center Public Works. “Those red bags are the protect the hydrants from road grime and road salt.”

Brooklyn Center has 1,100 hydrants, but covers only the ones along the main roads, like Brooklyn Boulevard, Bass Lake Road and Shingle Creek Parkway. Weber estimates that’s between 30 and 40 hydrants.

Each fire truck in Brooklyn Center has been outfitted with a utility knife to cut through the plastic.

“When we get to a hydrant and it’s not corroded and easy to move, it makes things smoother and faster and less strain on the individuals opening the hydrant,” says Brooklyn Center Fire Chief Todd Burg.

Brooklyn Park and Plymouth also cover their hydrants along main roads in the winter. Edina used bit, but stopped saying they didn’t find much value in it.

When asked how well the plastic protect the hydrants, Weber says, “This is our first year in Brooklyn Center trying out this product, we don’t know, we thought we’d give it a shot, it’s an inexpensive product.”

If a hydrant is out-of-service in Brooklyn Center, Weber says public works crews try to fix it within 24 hours.

Burg says this is also a good time to remind people to clear their hydrants at least 3 feet of ice and snow.

Heather Brown