The Mysterious NYC Fire Hydrant Poles Marked ‘Thailand’: We Have an Answer

2013 02 28 thailand fire hydrant poles

We have a definitive answer to the question I posed back in October: What’s with the New York City fire hydrant poles marked ‘Thailand’? Above is a photo I took back in the fall.

Michael De Stefano left a comment on the post Tuesday saying that:

Actually, it’s rather prosaic. By law, the Country of Origin must be on items purchased by the City of New York. In your travels, you’ll see manhole covers labeled “India”. The poles you’ve found are called ‘bollards’; they protect the hydrant from errant vehicles.

I followed up with Michael via email, and he explained that he knows about the issue because he’s a New York City civil servant who used to work in purchasing.

According to the law, the lowest bidder for producing such goods wins, Michael said. (The New York Times ran a memorable story in 2007 about manhole covers manufactured in India’s West Bengal state.)

So there you have it: Quite intuitively, the poles bollards are labeled “Thailand” because that’s where they’re made.

I remember thinking, earlier, that this most obvious of explanations was possible. (For further reading, here’s more from the Thai government on the country’s steel industry as of 2007.)

On a side note: One of the great pleasures I get from maintaining this blog is receiving thoughtful feedback from folks who happen upon my posts.

Thanks, Michael. And thanks to those who commented on the original item, both here and on Twitter. (In fact, Bangkok-based @KristoferA even speculated, originally, that the bollards were manufactured in Thailand.)

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