‘Wild geyser street pools’ anger local authorities

The practice of opening fire hydrants has drawn ire from mayors and fire services alike, who say it puts people in danger and wastes water

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As a heat wave engulfs France, its no surprise that people are doing whatever they can to stay cool. In recent weeks plenty of water has burst forth from fire hydrants, intended to relieve pedestrians from the intense heat.

‘Street pooling’ as it is known in the United States, has now taken on in France, with fire hydrants being opened up to spurt water on passers-by.

The Paris fire brigade warned on its website in May that opening hydrants could result in a water shortage, flooding and the risk of electrocution and ‘put lives in danger’.

Mayors from several communes, including d'Aubervilliers, Saint-Denis, Stains, l’Ile Saint-Denis, La Courneuve and Pantin, have made demands at the national level that the water flow cease.

Officials don’t just have safety concerns. There are no official figures for how much water is lost from the practice, but Le Monde estimates that 450,000 cubic metres of water has already been wasted so far this year.

In 2015 a child was severely injured on the head by water gushing from a hydrant.

Communes are working on ways to make it harder for people to open fire hydrants. In the severest case, opening a hydrant incurs a prison sentence of five years and a fine of €75,000.