Fridley Fire Department Asks Public to Adopt a Hydrant
The fire department is trying to spread the word about the importance of keeping fire hydrants clear and free of snow.
More than half of Fridley's 1,300 brightly painted fire hydrants have been buried under a record blanket of snow, in Assistant Fire Chief John Crelly's estimation.
The Fridley Fire Department is asking citizens to grab shovels and voluntarily adopt a hydrant close to home or work—making sure it's free and clear of snow and surrounded by several feet of open space.
He said the department is trying to get the word out about the importance of maintaining access to hydrants through billboard messages, fliers, educational events, website postings, word-of-mouth and other channels. The campaign emphasizes that time is taken away from fighting fires when fire hydrants are nowhere to be found.
While adopting a hydrant doesn't require checking in with the department, Crelly said he hopes people will take the initiative to uncover known fire hydrants—especially in areas with older populations. Some senior residents may not be able to get out and shovel, he explained.
Fire risks increase with greater reliance on furnaces, hot water heaters, fireplaces, ovens and other appliances in winter, he said.
At a fire, the distraction of having to go after a hidden hydrant can hinder the operation. "It takes a lot of effort to control a fire that's ravaging through the structure. If you don't have water, you have to put everything on hold again," he said. "It makes it almost impossible to get in and get the job done."
Steve Zaccard, public information officer for the St. Paul Fire Department, agreed. On Tuesday, a fire started accidentally in a furniture-refinishing shop. "It took time to locate a couple hydrants and dig them out and get a steady source of water on the fire," Zaccard said.
Eventually, a portion of the building collapsed, and the fire took several hours to distinguish. "It needed all of the water from the fire hydrant," he said.
"That's why we're pleading with people to shovel the hydrants at home and work," Zaccard added. "You never know when one is needed," adding that the fasterfirefighters are able to get to a hydrant, "the more lives it can save."