By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 22, 2020 at 1:01 PM

In my City of Milwaukee neighborhood, I've noticed that Department of Public Works crews have been out painting fire hydrants. Some of them have been getting green tops.

So, I went to Facebook, posted a photo and tagged some friends who are or have been firefighters, and I got some responses (along with the usual slate of joke comments).

Some friends knew the answer, but, the official word from the city's Water Works Water Distribution Manager Dave Goldapp is that the hydrants with the green bonnets help firefighters responding to an emergency quickly identify a hydrant connected to a water main that is 12 inches or larger.

These are hydrants with, "the capability to support and maintain additional hookups to meet fire suppression needs. The larger water mains provide higher flow and volume than smaller mains."

According to Goldapp, the city began painting the bonnets of hydrants connected to larger water mains green in 2018, and expects the project to be completed this year.

The city has painted 470 hydrants – some all red and some red and green – so far this year.

Shout out to Ryan Day, too, who was the first to comment on the Facebook post about the colored-bonnet system.

His quick Google skills turned up this key, which retired Milwaukee Fire Department Deputy Chief Jim Ley says is a National Fire Protection Association standard:

Red / Class C signifies 499 gallons per minute or less, which is enough capacity for a two-story house that's 50x50 feet and 20-feet tall.

Orange / Class B: 500-999 gallons per minute, for a four-story house, 50x50 feet and 40 feet tall.

Green / Class A: 1,000-1,499 gallons per minute, for a four-story house, 61x61 feet and 40 feet tall.

Light blue / Class AA: 1,500 gallons per minute or more, for a four-story house, 70x70 feet and 40 feet tall.

According to this post, the coding system is voluntary.

"NFPA 291 is a 'recommended practice;' thus, its color chart is not enforceable unless a jurisdiction determines that it is. Many municipalities and fire departments choose to follow NFPA strictly, others use some of the recommendations but make exceptions, and there are some areas that create their own unique color code."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.