Lesson from a Streetless Fire Hydrant

Design for the “just in case”

Shaun Holloway
Oct 8, 2017 · 3 min read

The Backstory

Camping is a way to explore and experience areas of our land that hotels just can’t match. Over the last few years, we’ve expanded our camping frequency, and this year, we logged 15 nights!

One of our favorite parks to go to is Lake Park in Coshocton, Ohio. There’s one activity at the park that has become one that I am known for… taking the kids to play in the creek — or river in this case.

Because every kid should be encouraged to wade in a creek, learn to skip rocks, and get dirty playing outside.

Tucked away passed the tent, no-electric campsites is a rock beach that is ideal for river exploration, yet on the hike there, it was really odd to see something that is typically on a sidewalk or paved street.

The Object

That “road” leads to the river.

A fire hydrant. Right in the middle of the path to the river. Like it was left over from a forgotten master plan that never came to fruition, the hydrant sits there… just in case it’s needed.

My assumption is that when the park was plumbed for electric and water for each of the camper campsites, a main water line made a lot of sense… just in case someone let a campfire loose on the forest.

Perhaps it provides a sense of safety and comfort for people knowing that there is a hydrant nearby… just in case.

The Lesson

I suppose that’s the whole point when engineers design maps and locations for fire hydrants, even if they are for one that’s seemingly in the middle of nowhere and out of place with everything around it… just in case it’s needed.

Just in case. Designing for the “less than 1%” chance that something bad will happen and relief is needed. Just in case. Just saying the words give you a sense of calm and peace of mind, and it really doesn’t matter what you’re referring to. Sometimes, providing an answer of “just in case” is all that is needed.

Why are you doing that? What is that doing here? Why does that rule exist?


The Take-aways:

  • Some things aren’t understood, until the “just in case” actually happens
  • It’s hard to know when you’ll need what you need until you need it
  • There’s usually a good a reason why things were done or exist they way they do — we just may not know it yet.
  • We need to worry about the important things, and we can do that, because someone else already thought about giving us the just in case.

While “just in case” can be taken to an extreme, more often than not, it’s there to do exactly what you’d expect — be there just in case.

So, let’s thank the engineers and policy-makers for giving us the peace of mind to enjoy our parks safely, protect the environment, and know that if water is needed from a fire hydrant where you normally don’t see one exist, it’s there… just in case.

Written by Shaun Holloway.

Lessons from Ordinary

Business and life learning from everyday objects

Shaun Holloway

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Lessons from Ordinary. Business and life learning from everyday objects. http://www.srholloway.com

Lessons from Ordinary

Business and life learning from everyday objects