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City News

Practice good fire safety; make sure the city’s fire hydrants are clear of snow

Post Date:02/26/2019 4:35 PM
Digging out hydrants 4 
Clearing your driveway after a snowfall probably seems second nature during a Minnesota winter. But what about your nearest fire hydrant?

A fire doubles in size every minute, so when firefighters are rushing to the scene, every second counts.

“Trust me, the last thing you want a firefighter doing when your house or your neighbor’s house is on fire is digging out a fire hydrant,” explained firefighter Mike Ziskovsky. “We have responded to fires in the dead of winter and lost precious time because we had to dig out a hydrant.”

While the city’s fire engines each carry more than 500 gallons of water, having the continuous water supply from a hydrant is critical.

Hooking up a hose to a hydrant takes approximately 30 seconds, but when it’s covered in snow and needs to be dug out, it can take as much as four minutes to hook up a hose. Think about how much time a fire can grow in four minutes!

“Speed is of the essence when it comes to fighting a fire,” said Fire Chief Wayne Kewitsch. “The faster we get there, the faster we put water on it, the faster the problem goes away.”

While it is typically the responsibility of the homeowner who has the hydrant on their property to clear it, the fire department uses the closest hydrants for the whole neighborhood. Even if a hydrant isn’t in your yard, in the case of a fire, that might be you counting those valuable minutes spent digging away.

Kewitsch recommends a three-foot clearance when removing snow around fire hydrants, but ultimately firefighters just need enough space to get in, hook up to the hydrant, and have a little bit of area to work.

He also recommends starting early and being consistent when it comes to removing snow from your nearest fire hydrant. Just like your driveway, when left un-shoveled snow will begin to pack down, melt, refreeze and become more and more difficult to dig out.
Shoveling snow may seem like an easy task for some, but it may not come as easy to the city’s senior or those with physical impairments.

“A lot of people aren’t capable of clearing their hydrant,” said Kewitsch. “If everybody steps up, it will make for a better, safer city."
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