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Kansas City man paints fire hydrants properly, hoping to beautify neighborhood

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some metro cities are spreading the message that, although cute, painting and decorating fire hydrants is not permitted.

FOX4 spoke to a metro man Wednesday who's been painting hydrants for years. He said he's not doing anything wrong and plans to continue to paint the hydrants legally, hoping to make his neighborhood look better.

“A neighbor, a homeowner on this street, Harrison, I told her I was interested in doing that, and she said that they are painted for certain reasons, and there are certain codes, and she was actually right,” Nickolas Wood said.

Wood has been painting fire hydrants in his South Hyde Park neighborhood for three years.

“Anything that vitalizes and rejuvenates the neighborhood, makes it look better, it`s just like a go. There`s no reason why you should really stop it,” Wood said.

Olathe shared a post on social media Tuesday, saying painting and decorating fire hydrants is not permitted in the city.

That's because the color of the hydrant alerts staff to which entity it belongs to during emergencies. City hydrants are painted yellow. WaterOne hydrants are yellow with black tops. Red hydrants are privately owned.

“It is best to always reach out to the right person ahead of time before you go through with your plans, like I did. I contacted the local fire marshal,” Wood said.

KCMO city officials and the Kansas City Fire Department say people should not paint hydrants because the color tells the fire department what size main the hydrant is connected to. That makes it a public safety issue.

“You don`t want the firefighters showing up to an emergency, taking out the hoses, then have a pump that`s not going to do anything,” Wood said.

Wood said luckily a neighbor informed him about this before he started painting. But he said he's been doing it ever since, making his neighborhood look better one hydrant at a time.

“Completely fixed them up. A lot of them were just complete rust buckets. I sanded them, buffed them up, and got them looking a lot better, and put a heavy-duty oil-based gloss finish on them, and they’ve been looking pretty good,” Wood said.