by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
While the winter months prove difficult for many reasons - including hazardous travel, school closings and heating issues - one particular challenge for the local fire department is the wasted time it takes for firefighters at a fire scene having to search through a neighborhood's snowbanks, attempting to locate a fire hydrant.
Typically, residents who already feel stressed by the normal challenges a snow or ice storm present, find it overwhelming to take that one extra step of clearing their hydrant. To help encourage them, communities are taking up the call of the local fire departments and getting behind the message that shoveling around a hydrant saves lives.
Nationally, some municipalities - like North Hempstead in Nassau County, New York - have enacted laws which require its residents to shovel around their hydrants, punishable by fines otherwise. In the case of North Hempstead, residents are required to clear two feet of snow around the hydrant throughout the winter, or face a $350 fine.
It's been estimated that it can take one firefighter over two minutes to dig out a hydrant while, at the same time, a second firefighter prepares the firehose back at the truck. Comparatively, with a cleared hydrant, one firefighter on their own can prepare and attach a firehose to an already cleared hydrant in about one minute's time. After a particularly heavy snowfall, three firefighters shoveling together can clear a buried hydrant in about three minute's time.
Those minutes might not seem like a lot, but the rule of thumb for firefighters is that fire doubles in size every ten seconds. As demonstrated in the video shown above, it takes less than three minutes for a fully engulfed fire to completely destroy one room.
The City of Boston has an online application called "Adopt A Hydrant" which allows its residents to claim responsibility for one specific hydrant and pinpoint its location on a map. The app was created by the non-profit organization Code For America in order to use open source technology as a means of improving community life.
People need to ask themselves: