Do Fire Departments Still Fill Swimming Pools?

Going through the process of having a swimming pool installed is one of the biggest tests of patience one will ever go through. Months of watching the construction process is both exciting and draining! When it is finally finished and time to fill it up, the last thing you’ll want to do is wait on a garden hose. Back in the old days, local fire departments would come to the rescue and fill them up! Many wonder if that is still the case. Do fire departments fill swimming pools?

fire department filling swimming pool
Photo credit: Pavlo at

Some fire departments will still fill swimming pools, but most will charge a fee. Typically, the fee will range anywhere from $300 to $600 for approximately 5,000 gallons. An average 12′ x 24′ x 5′ rectangular pool holds about 10,700 gallons, so going this route can be quite costly.

Now if money is not an issue for you, keep in mind that there are other drawbacks with using the fire department that you should be aware of. Also, there are other options available to help speed up the filling process. I’ll cover all of that, and I’ll share with you a tip on how I was able to fill my pool for FREE, and how you might be able to also!

Why consider asking the fire department to fill a swimming?

The reason why most people would consider this option should be fairly obvious – speed! The thought of going through the grueling, and typically months long process of watching your pool be built is difficult enough. Then, to be given the thumbs up to fill it, but realize it may take you days to get there? Ugh!

Obviously, using a process that can shoot nearly 1,000 gallons of water per minute seems pretty tempting at this point. However, while this may lead to some instant gratification, there may be some drawbacks in taking this approach.

Why shouldn’t you fill a pool with a fire truck hose?

When doing my research, I was told numerous times that I should strongly consider the potential consequences of this approach. Depending on how your local fire department would handle the logistics of this, it could actually be a total nightmare.

If your local fire department does fill swimming pools, it is important to ask them the method that they fill them. Ask them if they go directly from the hydrant to your pool. If they do not, and instead fill their truck tank first, you may want to consider other options.

fire hose filling swimming pool

The tanks on fire trucks are often very dirty inside. There are countless stories from both pool owners and firefighters of not-so-pleasant water being transferred from the tank of the trucks to a brand new swimming pool. If that particular department does not have a strict protocol on around tank cleaning/flushing, this could be disastrous for you. The amount of time and money saved up front could be completely off-set, and then some, if this happens.

When does having the fire department fill your swimming pool make sense?

There are a couple of scenarios where it would make sense to go ahead with using the fire department. First of all, if there is no cost in doing so, or the cost is minimal compared to any other methods then it is worth considering.

Secondly, as discussed above, if the fire department will be going straight from the hydrant to your pool then poor water quality risk is minimal. Keep in mind that fire trucks are not the only vehicles capable of delivering large amounts of water quickly.

Other ways to fill a pool fast

Before having my pool installed, I actually didn’t realize that water delivery services existed. Turns out that there are any number of reasons that large amounts of water may be needed, and having a pool filled is one of them.

fill swimming pool fast

Typically, these are going to be local private companies, so there will naturally be a cost associated with them. The benefit of considering going this route is that they specialize in delivering water, and therefore should keep their equipment optimal for providing this service. So, as long as the price is fairly in-line, this method will often trump using a fire department.

Water delivery service cost

From the research I conducted, including calling a few companies and checking their websites, the costs are pretty in-line with expectations. Around $350 per truck load seems to be about average, with truck loads quoted as being between 5,000-6,000 gallons. For most people, you’re looking at anywhere from $500-$1,500 for that initial fill.

Depending on the guarantees on water quality that the company provides, this may be worthwhile to you. If you take your hose water to your local pool store, you can have them test that water to see where you would be starting from.

filling swimming pool

Another thing that you should consider doing before making your final decision is calling your water utility company to ask for an estimate on the bill increase. They should be able to tell you based on your last bill. You would simply need to provide them with the amount of water volume your pool holds. This can be found on your pool contract.

How long does it take to use a hose to fill a swimming pool?

The amount of time it takes to fill a swimming pool with a will depend on the size of the pool and how many hoses you are running. Most responses I received from people suggested approximately 36 hours for an average sized pool. For my 15 x 30 free form pool, rated as holding 10,500 gallons, it took 32 hours with two hoses.

Does filling a swimming pool with a garden hose increase your water bill?

It only stands to reason that if you are using more water to fill your swimming pool, then you will see an increase in your water bill. In most counties, residents are charged a base fee plus usage on a tiered system. Below is an example from my water utility company:

water company rates

As you can see, there is a base rate of $10.86 that I must pay, regardless of whether I use any water at all. Beyond that, the amount charged is tiered by usage.

Since I would not be using wastewater or reclaimed water (gross) to fill my pool, we want to pay attention to the top section. In an effort to overestimate rather than underestimate, we will assume that my household already uses 18,000 gallons. This means that the 10,500 needed for my pool would be at a rate of $5.16 per 1,000 gallons. This would result in about $52 to fill my pool. Not bad!

Here’s the kicker:

I didn’t even have to pay that.

How I filled my pool for free

In my county, the water utility company actually provides a one-time swimming pool fill credit. All you have to do is notify the company ahead of time, and there is a special form that they have you fill out on their website. After doing that, note that you will be charged in the month following your fill-up! However, the credit will typically be applied by the following statement.

I highly recommend before considering any of the other options that you call your local water utility company and see if they offer such a program in your area. This should be a major consideration before opting to spend thousands of dollars using one of the other methods.

Patience is a virtue!

Unless you have boxed yourself into a difficult corner by promising a pool party on a quickly approaching date, patience will win out here. Some fire departments will fill swimming pools, and so will water delivery companies. Usually, there is a significant cost associated with that. However, if you put the cost and time savings in perspective, by waiting an additional 24 hours you could potentially pay for a myriad of things. A new back patio set, some loungers, or maybe that much needed pellet grill you’ve been on the fence about to complete your full backyard experience!

You’ve waited months for this. What’s one more day?