Winter Fire Safety: Keep Fire Hydrants Clear of Snow
When winter is at its coldest, you may want to spend most of your time inside. However, it’s important to keep an eye on what’s happening outdoors, too. Wintry weather can create fire safety hazards, such as ice or heavy snowfall that can obstruct fire hydrants. You can help reduce the risk by keeping nearby fire hydrants accessible and clear of ice and snow, says the U.S. Fire Administration.
Why It Matters
In an emergency, every second matters. Fire hydrants that are blocked, concealed or difficult to access due to snow or ice can impede emergency fire response, say officials in cities accustomed to heavy snowfall, such as Minneapolis-St.Paul.
Fire trucks carry a finite amount of water, so one of responders’ first tasks upon arriving at a fire is to locate a water supply from the nearest hydrant. Hydrants covered in snow can be difficult to locate, and uncovering them can waste valuable time needed during a fire fight. Keeping them clear can mean easier access to water and more time doing what really matters — fighting the fire.
How to Keep Fire Hydrants Clear
The City of Fort Wayne, Indiana, also suggests maintaining a shoveled path from the street or driveway to the fire hydrant so that it is visible from the road and firefighters can easily access it.
Who Should Clear Hydrants?
Although there are few hard and fast rules concerning who should clear hydrants, it’s generally considered the responsibility of the residents occupying property near a hydrant. Consider the following:
- Some cities, such as Poughkeepsie, New York, impose fines upon owners or lessees of properties that front hydrants for failure to keep them free of snow and obstruction.
- Even cities with heavy annual snowfall, such as Minneapolis, often have only small crews available for clearing snow from fire hydrants, says NBC News, so it’s important to take matters into your own hands to help keep hydrants clear.
- The owners or occupants of rental apartment complexes or buildings may be responsible for keeping hydrants on or fronting their properties clear, such as in New Rochelle, New York. Regulations vary from city to city; check with your local government to learn of any regulations that may pertain to you.
- Consider helping elderly friends, neighbors or those with medical conditions keep their fire hydrants clear.
The winter can be a time for enjoying the great indoors with friends and family. Help keep your home safe from winter fire hazards by ensuring your fire hydrants are clear and readily accessible in an emergency.