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‘Every second matters.’ Clear fire hydrants from snow and ice.

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IDAHO FALLS — It could make a difference for you, your family, and your neighbors by clearing the fire hydrant next to your property.

“Every second matters when fighting fires, so having quick and easy access to fire hydrants is very important,” said Kerry Hammon, a spokeswoman for the Idaho Falls Fire Department.

During the winter months, it’s easy to think about shoveling driveways, steps, and clearing cars, but fire hydrants can get neglected. Snow accumulation can quickly cover fire hydrants and blocks access for fire department vehicles when responding to a fire.

fire hydrant digging out
Idaho Falls firefighters dig out a fire hydrant. | Courtesy: Kerry Hammon

“We have had issues with getting access to hydrants during the wintertime in the past. We’ve also had issues with hydrants freezing up which has delayed firefighting efforts,” said Hammon.

Hammon told EastIdahoNews.com there are 2,566 hydrants within Idaho Falls. She said there’s always a contingency plan in place in case a fire hydrant is not available. However, it can make the job difficult.

“If we are having a problem with a hydrant when we are out on a call, then the battalion chief will ask for a water tender and they’ll send a water tender. It’s not faster because they have to come from the station so it’s ideal for us to have access to a hydrant,” she said. “We can get water on a fire when we first arrive using the water we bring with us, but having access to an ongoing supply of water through a hydrant is what is needed for larger prolonged fires.”

Here’s what you can do to help firefighters if there is a fire hydrant near your home:

  • Remove any snow and ice
  • Clear a wide enough perimeter around the hydrant for firefighters to work (about three feet)
  • Clear a path from the hydrant to the street
fire hydrant 2
Clear fire hydrants from snow and ice. | Courtesy: Facebook

It doesn’t just apply to snow either.

“Anything that is in the way — if we have a car and we need (the police department) to move a car because there’s a car parked in front of the hydrant, that takes up time,” Hammon said. “If it’s buried under a bunch of landscaping, that takes additional time. So anything that gets in our way during fighting a fire is not ideal, and snow is one of those.”

Hammon explained that any fire code violation could potentially result in a misdemeanor citation.

However, she explained when there is a fire code violation, the fire department likes to educate the person and work with them to resolve the issue.

“Most of the time the individual complies and the code violation is resolved easily, which is the case with keeping fire hydrants clear,” Hammon said.

firefighters
Idaho Falls Fire Department at a scene. | Courtesy: Kerry Hammon
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