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Wahoo! The new sub-bus is here!

Undoubtedly, everyone will now be lining up to drive the “sub-bus.” (Action Line)

Dear Action Line: A sign at the school bus barn says, “Hiring bus drivers and sub-bus drivers.” What is a sub-bus? Is it a special Bluebird model with a snorkel so it can cross rivers? Or is it just a term made up to make the buses feel bad about themselves, like they’re not good enough to be a real bus? Or is it a special lunchmobile serving sandwiches, with lots of good yellow mustard? Asking for a friend. – Eric Sibelius

Dear Eric: Wait, did Action Line just hear a mic drop somewhere? What a witty question. Not being able to top it is flustering and frustrating. This must stop!

Let’s pass the question directly to Julie Popp, public information officer for Durango School District 9-R. She’ll play it straight.

“Ahh, yes, sub-bus drivers,” Popp began. “You know, ever since the start of COVID, the district has been rolling buses to neighborhoods across the county delivering much more than just sandwiches! So sub-bus does make a whole lot of sense, however, I would venture to say no mustard, ketchup only. ... These are children, after all, and their tastes are delicate.”

Dang. There’s that sound: another mic smacking the ground.

As many readers may have figured out by now, “sub” is short for “substitute,” which is a long word to put on an already wide banner.

The district is never “drowning” in regular or sub-bus drivers. Drivers are needed even in the summer, Popp said, when the district delivers remote lunches, runs summer school and has activities that involve state and national competitions.

So, if anyone is interested in driving a bus, or one of those cool sub-buses with the snorkel and fins, the summer is a good time to start, Popp said. The district offers paid training and certification, which generally takes three to four weeks.

Contact Daniel Blythe, 9-R’s coordinator of transportation, at the bus barn at 247-5335, or dblythe@durangoschools.org. Or contact 9-R human resources at 247-5411.

Dear Action Line: While walking downtown recently, I noticed more than one pink fire hydrant. I was wondering if this is part of a new color-coding system, sorta like the one we use for COVID-19 safety levels? I know New Mexico has a controversial turquoise color level, so maybe Durango had added pink to its hydrants to mean ... something? – Color Blind

Dear Color Blind: Let’s face it, a red hydrant just doesn’t look good in some places, where a green or yellow might be more complementary. Yet, other times a blue seems more analogous, while an orange fits into a triadic blend of surrounding hues.

This pink fire hydrant that should be red has green arms. It all means something to those fire folk. (Courtesy of Color Blind)

Firefighters aren’t concerned with color palettes. Their aim is to find the hydrant quickly and know what to expect from that hydrant when connecting the hose. Action Line learns something fun and new every week, and this week it’s a lesson in fire hydrant color coding from Karola Hanks, whose first name seems to be a blend of “color” and “Crayola,” but that’s likely just a coincidence.

Your generic hydrant comes in yellow. But many areas in the U.S. use a color-coding scheme, Hanks, fire marshal with the Durango Fire Protection District, informed Action Line.

“The purpose of color coding is twofold,” she said. “Hydrants should be highly visible, and the color designates the flow capacity of the hydrant. Flow capacity tells the firefighter/engineer how much water the hydrant can safely provide for fire suppression.”

There are two recognized color schemes, and Durango Fire recommends the National Fire Protection scheme based on the hydrant capabilities in the area.

The least powerful hydrant is red, which supplies 500 gallons per minute. Orange provides 501 to 999 gpm, green provides 1,000 to 1,499 gpm and blue supplies more than 1,500 gpm.

In general, Hanks said, hydrants around Durango come from the factory in a solid red. The factory red lasts “a lifetime” before it becomes pink, but when they’re painted over, the new paint can fade. A close look at the fire hydrant in question shows the factory red underneath the pink.

“The pink should be red, but because the hydrant has green arms it is indicating that the flow is greater than for a red hydrant,” Hanks said. “We would suggest that the hydrant cap should be green and the body red to indicate a hydrant with flows between 1,000 and 1,499 gallons per minute.”

And just to be clear, DO NOT paint fire hydrants. Not even an artsy Southwest color like turquoise. Learn to live with the pink ones.

“The hydrants are the property of the water purveyor and can only be painted with approval from the purveyor,” Hanks said. “As cities and counties across the country recover from COVID economically, I suspect that painting hydrants is not at the top of their to-do list. Ensuring the hydrants and water systems work appropriately may be higher on their list.”

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Action Line didn’t ask, but assumes that a dog relieving itself will not change the color of the hydrant.