Keeping Fire Hydrants Accessible and Ready-to-Go

November 19, 2018

Unless you’re lucky to live in a very sparsely populated area (and sometimes even then) you know what a pain parking can be.  Too many cars, too few spots and too little time lead people to take liberties with parking regulations. Unfortunately, most parking regulations are not arbitrary or capricious – they’re often based on public safety concerns.

One of the most pressing of these concerns is maintaining access to fire hydrants. When a fire hits, firefighters most certainly do not have time to be tracking down car owners or calling a tow truck. They need to get access to firefighting water and they need it immediately.

Getting Fire Hydrant Alerts

Kyle Young, a 10thgrader from Shelton, Connecticut invented the Fire Hydrant Alert System after noticing the parking situation at his school. Especially during big school events, cars were ending up in the fire lane and blocking access to the hydrants. As you can imagine this is a particularly bad combination – large numbers of people on school property at the same time firefighting capabilities are limited.

Kyle realized that having a constant police presence to ticket and tow – or at least wave off prospective illegal parkers – was neither practical nor affordable.

So, he invented an autonomous solution to the problem – the Fire Hydrant Alert System. This system uses an ultrasonic sensor to detect car-sized obstructions (people do not set off an alert) within a set range around a hydrant. It then gives users a warning that they should not be parking there by flashing an LED light system – so they have a chance to move on their own accord.  If no action is taken in a set period of time, the Fire Hydrant Alert System can then automatically (and wirelessly, using Bluetooth) notify a monitoring service and dispatch a tow truck.  Kyle’s system is so self-contained that it can even be powered by solar energy, so there’s no need to provide any external power supply. Kyle even added an audio signaling device on the hydrant that can be activated by firefighters to help them find the closest hydrant to the fire.

Kyle has future plans to add additional sensor capabilities to his system, so it could also inform a monitoring network if the hydrant had a leak or was vandalized.

The Kurt Giessler Foundation for Youth Achievement presents the Youth Achievement Award

Russ Bozek and  Dr. James Partridge from The Kurt Giessler Foundation for Youth Achievement were on-hand at NICEE 2018 to present Kyle with the Youth Achievement Award. This award, in the memory of Kurt Giessler, is designed to recognize achievements from youths who benefit both themselves and their community. To find out more about Kurt Giessler and the Kurt Giessler Foundation for Youth Achievement, visit




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