METROPOLIS, Ill. – Think twice before painting a fire hydrant because there is a reason they’re not all red. Their color indicates how much water they can provide for first responders. This can be essential information during an emergency.

Firefighters in Metropolis Illinois found a spray-painted hydrant last week. They said that painting them a different color can be confusing. They put out a warning on their Facebook page to stop painting the hydrants and to remove plants that also get in the way.

“This was discovered by your firefighters today near 8th and Butler. Please do not paint up the fire hydrants within the city of Metropolis. The caps are painted by firefighters a particular color to indicate the gallons per minute of water flow they can provide. Hydrants should also not be blocked by plants or other things that can obscure them from being located quickly in the event they are needed for a fire,” Metropolis firefighters write on Facebook.

Not every municipality has rules about color coding fire hydrants. The National Fire and Sprinkler Association is sharing what the colors mean for most of the places that use them.

What do the different colors mean?

  • Class AA – Light – Blue Rated capacity >1500 gpm
  • Class A – Green – Rated capacity 1000-1499 gpm
  • Class B – Orange – Rated capacity 500-999 gpm
  • Class C – Red – Rated capacity <500 gpm