Boy Scout plans to color code hydrants for Eagle Scout project in Keyport

KEYPORT – Municipal officials have given the go-ahead to a young man who wants to geolocate, inventory and color code 128 fire hydrants in Keyport.

On April 2, members of the Borough Council unanimously voted to permit Boy Scout Colin McTernan, 17, to color code fire hydrants in town as he pursues the rank of Eagle Scout.

A colored reflective band that will be placed on each fire hydrant will indicate the volume of water each hydrant permits, officials said.

In an interview, Fire Subcode Official Dave Olsen said each hydrant is connected to a water main that varies between 4 and 6 inches in diameter. The smaller water main may not provide firefighters with enough water to battle a large fire, Olsen said.

“Since you can’t see the main underground, you can’t assume every (water) main is the same size. By color coding each hydrant that (corresponds) with the size of the main, you know how much water you can get out of that hydrant in an emergency.”

Presenting his proposal to the council that evening, Colin, who attends Matawan Regional High School, said blue, green, orange and red reflective bands “will help firefighters easily identify which hydrants to use” in the case of a fire-related emergency.

Business Administrator Stephen Gallo, who is involved with the Boy Scouts, said a meeting will be held with the Keyport Police Department before the project begins.

A discussion regarding the safety protocol participants will be required to follow when “tagging” the fire hydrants will be determined in the upcoming weeks, he said.

“The essence of an Eagle Scout project is not to do all the work yourself,” Gallo said. “The point is to organize the work and motivate a group of people to accomplish a larger task. (The colored bands) allow the firefighters more time to figure out if there is enough water volume to put out a fire.”

The 128 fire hydrants that will be color coded have code numbers and will be geo-located on a map, Gallo said.

Geolocation is the identification or estimation of the real-world geographic location of an object, such as a radar source, mobile phone, or Internet-connected computer terminal.

The project must be completed by May, Colin said.

In an interview following his presentation, Colin said Keyport Boy Scout Troop 364, students from Matawan Regional High School and friends from another Boy Scout troop will help inventory and geolocate the fire hydrants in the borough.

“I was born and raised in Keyport and I always hung around the fire department. I’ve been in touch with the chief who has given me some ideas for the fire hydrants and how to go about color coding them,” Colin said.

Scoutmaster Kristopher Kryston said firemen will be able to easily detect fire hydrants at night after the color coded reflective bands are fastened around the hydrants.

According to the council’s resolution authorizing the project, “to qualify as an Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout must advance through five other ranks, earn at least 21 merit badges and serve in troop leadership roles, as well as plan and execute an extensive service project. The requirements necessary to become an Eagle Scout take years to fulfill and only 4 percent of Boy Scouts achieve this rank.”