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Many factors contribute to uncappings, from the physical conditions of the district to the social structure of the sidewalk. But above all is the obvious: heat. The asphalt and paving of the city intensify the heat so that New York City is often as many as 10° warmer than surrounding areas.22

According to anecdotal DEP findings, illegal hydrant usage tends to spike when the temperatures climb into the 90’s. In 2007, the DEP began a pilot program in neighborhoods where uncappings were numerous. Hydrant Education Action Teams (H.E.A.T) made up of specially trained neighborhood teens were deployed to educate residents on the impact of uncappings. Wearing red T–shirts and armed with water bottles and fans, team members provided information to hot residents on alternatives to illegal hydrant use — from spray caps to locations of area pools and sprinklers.

Deploying HEAT youths on the hottest days of the summer of 2007 helped the DEP reduce the number of 311 complaints regarding open hydrants in Inwood and Washington Heights by 1,867 calls from the same period in 2006.23

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