Can You LEGALLY Paint A Fire Hydrant?

There are a lot of fancy fire hydrant designs on social media these days. So, it may be tempting to grab a bucket of paint and paint the hydrant out front of your house. However, knowing who has ownership over the hydrant determines whether you can legally paint it or not. 

Painting a public fire hydrant is not legal and could result in criminal charges for defacing city property. However, painting a fire hydrant would be acceptable if (1) you own the fire hydrant and (2) you follow the statutory guidelines for your municipality.

Privately owned fire hydrants can be painted any color you like if they follow the guidelines of the local area. Some places have specific color codes, and if you paint your hydrant using the wrong code, it could cause a misunderstanding that could be detrimental.

There is no federal guideline on how to paint the fire hydrant; however, the national fire prevention association has provided a recommended standard for what colors are acceptable. 

What Do Fire Hydrant Colors Mean?

The fire hydrant’s barrel indicates the water source that the hydrant is utilizing.

For example, reflective Chrome Yellow indicates a public water source, red is usually private, and purple is non-potable water. The regulations can vary widely based on the jurisdiction and location of the hydrant. 

Fire Hydrant top colors define the class of the hydrant:


The different classes of public fire hydrants are realized based on the water pressure that the hydrant produces. The higher the class, the more water pressure the hydrant can make.

Privately maintained fire hydrants can be located inside apartment buildings or on private property. These Hydrants are the ones that you have some flexibility in painting in some jurisdictions. 

Each local municipality will set the standard for what colors are allowed. The national fire protection provides the recommendations to the cities, and most have adopted them as it helps when outside help is needed.

However, these standards are only recommendations, and each municipality can follow them. 

Are There Different Types of Fire Hydrants? 

There are three types of fire hydrants that people are familiar with. The First is the public fire hydrants managed by the city or municipalities that have assigned a department to take care of that city’s fire hydrants.

The second are privately operated fire hydrants, often on private property, a well, or other water mains for an area. 

Also, I wrote an entire article on whether you can install a fire hydrant on your property. Click the link to check it out.

The third type is the yard hydrant. This hydrant can be painted any way you please. They are not used to put fires out but to move water from one location to another.

Everyone has seen a yard hydrant at some point; they typically consist of a large vertical pipe with a hand pump at the top. You use the hand pump to pump the water out of the attached faucet. 

Is It Hard to Paint a Fire Hydrant?

Painting a fire hydrant does not require any unique skill set. However, if allowed by the district, you want to use an oil-based paint and primer. Some places will even pay for the paint if you choose to use the color that the city picks. 

Either way, there is a process that you should follow to make sure that you paint the fire hydrant correctly, starting with a visual inspection of the hydrant. The hydrant should be reported and repaired before painting if it is damaged. 

Painting a fire hydrant can be done in three steps: 

  • Scrub off the old paint with a wire brush
  • Clean off the Dust and Debris
  • Paint the hydrant using a three-inch hand paint brush

Ideally, you want to use the primer, let the primer dry, then apply the final color. Depending on the quality of the paint, you may have to put a few coats of paint on the hydrant.

Finally, trim the grass around the base of the fire hydrant by painting the bottom where it connects to the water main. It is a promising idea to use reflective paint, which may even be required in some areas. 

A privately owned fire hydrant can be painted any color or design that the owner wants in most jurisdictions.

Also, I wrote an entire article on whether you can use a fire hydrant to fill your pool. Click the link to check it out.

Mainly located on farms or in rural areas, these hydrants are maintained by using private underground or above-ground water tanks.

These hydrants are unique to the homeowner and are usually located on properties with a high fire risk because of how far away the fire department is.