October is ‘Paint your Fire Hydrant Pink’ Month (aka Cancer Awareness Month)

By Mark Ufkes

October is Breast and All Cancer Awareness Month. To do our part to promote cancer health awareness, my remarkable wife Lois Schipper and I spent an hour painting our White Center fire hydrant a wonderful pink hue. Here is how we did it. First, we cleared off the concrete pad it was sitting on with a hard brush. We then swept the actual hydrant with a clean patio broom and put newspaper down around the base to catch the paint drops. We used two 3-inch cheap brushes. The gallon of pink paint was a Home Depot Opps find. It cost $9, and one gallon can give two coats of paint for 5 or 6 fire hydrants.

And yes, it is legal … if your water is provided by Seattle Public Utilities. Seattle allows you to paint your fire hydrants! About a third of our neighborhoods in the unincorporated areas of White Center, those that border Arbor Heights and Southwest Seattle, already have Seattle utility services.

As a Scoutmaster, several years ago, I approached Seattle Public Utilities and asked permission to re-paint all the hydrants in the White Center area as a possible Eagle Scout project. They gave me approval and encouraged us to “Make it look nice, be careful with traffic, and clean up afterwards.” The scout took a different project, so many of the fire hydrants remain in desperate need of new paint. Our freshly painted pink fire hydrant is located on SW 107th Way, between 22nd Ave. SW and 26th Ave. SW.

Everyone has lost someone to cancer. Everyone. So, get your wife, husband, kids, partners, neighbors, church group, any and all of your friends, and go paint your fire hydrant. Be careful with the traffic, wear orange vests if possible so the drivers can see you working, and take lots of pictures (to send to your friends). For October, any color of pink will do. And it will remind us that those who have died of cancer are still with us every day. We painted ours pink for my mom, Iris Adkins, who died of colon cancer in 1972, when she was 43 years old.


18 Responses to “October is ‘Paint your Fire Hydrant Pink’ Month (aka Cancer Awareness Month)”
  1. David says:

    Is it really legal? Fire hydrants are painted different colors to allow firefighters to quickly assess the amount of flow any given hydrant is capable of releasing. Or at least that is how they do it in Wisconsin.

    • Captain obvious says:

      I would say ask your local fire marshal or fire department before painting any fire hydrant.

      It might be legal but Mr ufkes did as part of boy scouts and boy scouts are allow to do somethings regular people are not allowed to do.

      There also a issue of these getting painted shut on accident or being a distraction to drivers.

      I am all for fighting breast cancer but is this best way to do so.

      • phan says:

        Be careful CO. You might get comment shut down here too!

        • Captain obvious says:

          Sorry phan but I don’t think I am one of the ones that got comments shut down on the b-town blog. From what the editor says it was a overwhelming amount of comments and some people’s frustrated about there comments not getting posted.

          When I have issue with a comment not being posted I ask nicely and try not to be rude.

  2. BlairJ says:

    Fire hydrants in Seattle are painted different colors indicating different things to fire fighters. I think painting them is best left up to the fire department.

  3. Mark Ufkes says:

    To repeat, the fire hydrants are managed by Seattle Public Utilities, not the fire department. Many, many of them look terrible now and desperately need to be painted. Encouraging neighborhoods to adopt a fire hydrant is an community empowering management strategy, reduces cost, and adds art to our neighborhoods. And it can help give neighborhood ownership to a group of residents. During the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, only one downtown fire hydrant continued working. As a result, a block of houses was saved. My cousin owned one of those original houses, and every year, on the date of the fire, they would all get together and paint the now replaced fire hydrant.

    Distraction to drivers? Really? Every outdoor advertising image on the planet can be described that way. And being painted shut? Really again. If that was a risk, none of the hydrants would ever be painted. Usually, every year, every hydrant is tested. It amazes me how many people are afraid to think outside the box.

    • Captain obvious says:

      Even if the fire hydrants are not managed by the fire department they would or should have a idea on if it’s legal or not. Whats wrong with asking a question instead of possibly of causing a problem as in a fine or worse .
      Fire hydrants are normally painted by professionals. Now a regular problem that happens when a regular person paints say a home they tend to accidentally paint there windows shut on some houses. Now if someone was painting a fire hydrant not realizing that they might paint the caps shut causing a delay if a fire happens. Who is at fault there say a neighbor house burns down. From this issue as in why they have professional or someone trained to do job correctly.

      Now distracted driver if someone is driving and happens to see a pink fire hydrant. That might catch them a little off guard and a kid or pet could be crossing the street. The driver looking away from the road for that split second. There have been some pedestrians hit by cars lately in the area. By distracted drivers all ready people have enough distractions on the road. Then again who would be at fault if some thing happened.

      That’s great that fire hydrant in San Francisco 1906 worked but what does that have to do with your original posting of cancer awareness. Also laws may be different in different areas and time frames from 1906 to 2017.

      Are the laws the same for San Francisco as white center, Seattle or other surrounding areas.

  4. Captain obvious says:

    Mark if your concern with the color of the hydrants. Then maybe you should contact the nfpa.org about there color choices when making codes and safety standards for fire hydrants.

    These fire hydrants are a public utility pay for by tax payers. They are built to serve a purpose not tobe beauty pageant contestants.

  5. Mark Ufkes says:

    Captain Oblivious: What if, what if, what if . . . Don’t be so frightened at life UptheHedge.

    • Captain obvious says:

      Mark ok so in February do you want paint all the hydrants black. In the darkest time of year. To show respect for black history. Should we paint them like a tooth for January since it’s dental awareness month. Then in March we can paint them as a damaged brain for brain injury awareness month.

  6. Captain obvious says:

    good bye your full of lies and bs anyways Mr.ufkes

    Seems odd you bicker back and forth until you loss the argument. Your only come back is to say your unwilling to debate with people who hide names.

    You should of said that at the start or not of said anything at all!

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