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Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
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Tampa to RNC protesters: Keep your hands off our hydrants

TAMPA - First came the armored vehicle. Then came the Event Zone. Now you can add one more pre-RNC precaution the City of Tampa has taken in hopes of heading off mayhem: fire hydrants. As Tampa prepares for August's Republican National Convention, the city water department has been busy placing heavy brass caps atop hydrants downtown to make them inaccessible to potential mischief makers. The caps are about as wide as a coffee can and cover the top nut that firefighters turn to release water from the hydrant, something a determined person can do with fairly basic tools.
"The hydrant locking caps are being installed in this area to first protect our water supply for the health and safety of our customers," said water department director Brad Baird. Opening fire hydrants could also cause flooding and traffic problems and potentially divert police officers from performing crowd control during the RNC, Baird said. Beyond downtown, the caps were installed to prevent water thieves from tapping hydrants for their own uses, from pesticide application to construction, Baird said. "They are currently installed on various hydrants throughout our service area where we have experienced water theft," he said. It's not clear whether the caps will be a temporary or long-term addition to the city's fire hydrants, Baird said. kwiatrowski@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7871 Twitter: kevinw_trib
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