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Updated: 3:48 p.m. 

Sorry, Philly. Our days of dumpster pools are over.

After a weekend in which the Cedar Street Block Party rented a dumpster, illegally filled it with fire hydrant water and made a pool, the Mayor’s Office has issued this statement from Karen Guss, Communications Director for the Department of Licenses and Inspections:

“In view of the City’s commitment to public health, safety and basic common sense, we will not issue permits for block party dumpster pools.  And while you would think this decision would not require an explanation, three days of press requests have proven otherwise. So, Philly, here’s why you shouldn’t swim in a receptacle most often used for waste:

  • First and foremost, this could reduce the amount of water available should a fire break out in that neighborhood.  So if you would like to have water available should a fire break out in your home, don’t illegally tap a hydrant
  • There is also the potential loss of life by injury due to the hydrant water pushing a small child or even an adult into oncoming traffic.
  • Finally, remember that the pressure of the water coming out of the hydrant is so strong, and so powerful, that if opened too quickly or closed too quickly, it could deliver a jolt to the main of sufficient force that could break the main … and many blocks could lose water service until it is repaired.

We are not screwing around, Philly. The Streets Department will not issue any future block party permits to the 2400 block of Cedar, and officials have contacted the dumpster rental company regarding its failures to obtain the proper closure permits and to take mandatory measures to protect the street during placement of the dumpster.

In short, the City strongly recommends that residents opt for recreational options that are safer, more sanitary, and less likely to deplete the resources firefighters need in an emergency.”

Justyn Myers and Jake Long co-organized the block party. Myers told Billy Penn earlier this week that L&I showed up and placed a note on the dumpster on Friday, the day before the block party.

“They put a little business card on the dumpster with ‘Permits?’” written on it, Myers recalled.


After an initial power wash, Myers and Long lined the bottom of the bin with plywood. Out came a pair of Home Depot tarps, and they cushioned the corners with pool noodles. But filling it from the fire hydrant caused the biggest issue. Aside from the potential for wasted water, the pressure could cause a water main break.

The Philadelphia Water Department called the use of the fire hydrant to fill the dumpster illegal. Community relations manager John DiGiulio said permits to open fire hydrants are never given for recreational purposes, though about 13 hydrants per day were illegally opened in July in Philly. Fines can be given to people who open fire hydrants and charges issued for possible damages.

“It is extremely important that people understand, a fire hydrant truly has one purpose,” DiGiulio said, “and that is to provide water in case of a fire.”

Mark Dent is a reporter/curator at BillyPenn. He previously worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he covered the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Penn State football and the Penn State administration. His...