Until 9/11, fire hydrant security had more to do with “hindrance” than “prevention.” It was the theft of hydrant parts, vandalism and unauthorized operation of hydrants for water that utilities tried to thwart, and that hydrant locking devices were intended to address. Since the perceived problem was more one of monetary loss than being a threat to health and welfare, available locking devices were often considered effective if they merely discouraged or delayed a would be vandal or thief long enough to abandon the hydrant.
Times have changed. Since 9/11 there has been a heightened awareness that the ubiquitous fire hydrant, with its need to remain highly visible and immediately accessible in emergencies, could become the target for a determined agent bent on introducing contaminants into the public water supply. Today theft and vandalism remain important concerns, but add to that the threat of contamination of the water supply, and fire hydrant security becomes more of an imperative for 24/7 prevention that can be depended upon to work reliably.