MRB Group | Fire Hydrant

NEW YORK — MRB Group has nominated the City of Auburn for the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) 29th Annual Local Government Achievement Award, on behalf of the City’s “Mapping the Way to Increased Efficiency” project.

The NYCOM award is given to a community that has undertaken a significant and innovative project. The project is based on improvements to the quality of life in the community, demonstration of shared services, as well as, increased efficiency in government procedures. MRB Group felt the City of Auburn not only met, but exceeded the award qualifications with their GIS Mapping project designed to locate, track and maintain water lines and hydrants.

The City of Auburn, located in Cayuga County, maintains a water distribution system comprised of over 125 miles of water lines and approximately 1,200 fire hydrants in need of annual maintenance, inspection and flushing. MRB Group worked with City Engineer Mark Odrzywolski to develop a geographic information system (GIS) mapping program whose information and data collection could be utilized electronically across City Departments.

The process began by taking utility record maps and making them digitally accessible to City employees in the field through a smartphone application (app). The GIS mapping was able to detail streets, as well as water and sewer lines in real-time. This process allows for quick location of a valve or hydrant without having to carry or consult paper maps and documentation.

Building on the City of Auburn’s GIS success, and in partnership with Fire Chief Jeff Dygert, MRB Group assisted in transitioning the Fire Department’s hydrant inspection and flushing paper forms into digital versions. This set-up allowed multiple crews to enter information into the database at the same time, as well as show each fire hydrant point on the map, which is designed to change color from red to green indicating the inspection and flushing process status.

MRB Group nominated the City of Auburn for the NYCOM Local Government Award for the many benefits the GIS mapping provided to employees and residents. Not only was the Fire Department able to flag hydrants that were not working, but they were also able to attach a picture to the full digital image showing all of the hydrants in need of further repair. These features were also able to be viewed in real-time by the City Water and Engineering Departments.

The GIS hydrant inspection process was so successful because it reduced both the time and effort required in navigating every fire hydrant, decreased duplicate inspections, as well as, eliminating the transcribing of 1,200 paper inspection forms. In just the one annual inspection cycle, the City saw savings of approximately 80-100 personnel hours.

The increased efficiencies provided by the partnership between MRB Group and the City of Auburn directly impacted taxpayers. It provided a reduction in operations and service costs, improved system maintenance and record-keeping, which contributed to the City’s success in maintaining a Class 2 ISO rating, effectively reducing the costs of homeowner’s insurance for residents.

MRB Group looks forward to the continued partnership with the City of Auburn as they continue incorporating mobile GIS projects for water valve exercising, tracking water line leaks, street condition inspections, and a mobile Fire Department pre-planning app for individualized emergency response protocols for major City buildings.

MRB Group works with more than 100 municipalities across the State of New York, and is approaching 90 years of continuous service to local governments.  The firm’s 50-member team assists municipal communities, guiding projects to ensure not only regulatory compliance, but more importantly, that the long-term interests of the residents are protected.

According to MRB Group President Ryan Colvin, “We provide services to municipalities specifically designed to enhance operational efficiencies and minimize costs. The City of Auburn’s GIS mapping results are a perfect example of how this is accomplished.” Colvin continued, “The City of Auburn was a great candidate for the NYCOM award and we wish them the best of luck. MRB Group is proud to partner with innovative communities to enhance their ability to maximize the beneficial impacts of GIS and other implement-able initiatives.”

NYCOM was founded in 1910 serving as a powerful advocate, offering practical information on municipal activity and providing training of essential services. The winning submission for the Local Government Achievement Award will be recognized at NYCOM’s 107th Annual Meeting in Saratoga Springs in early May.  A full list of award winning projects will be made available on the NYCOM website,