The weather forecast for the next several days suggests that northwest Pennsylvania could see significant snowfall totals. Fire Departments throughout the area ask that all residents help us by keeping fire hydrants and other water supply sources free from snow and easily visible.
Even though we are not currently in contention for this year's Snow Globe Award, winter weather in Erie is quite unpredictable. Fire emergencies can also arise and be unforeseen, not only for you, but for your neighbors. This is why the West Ridge Fire Department is beginning our "Adopt a Hydrant" program to raise awareness about properly shoveling out fire hydrants during and following a snowfall. As we respond to fire emergencies such as structure fires, time taken to shovel out a fire hydrant can mean more time to establish a water supply at a hydrant, and less time and manpower to search for victims.
When shoveling a fire hydrant it is important to shovel not only the access to the hydrant from the roadway, but also 3-feet around the fire hydrant. Remember the "3 rules for 3 feet":
1.) Access: When arriving at a hydrant, the "hydrant person" grabs the hydrant bag with all of the hydrant tools and adapters, and the large diameter supply hose that will get the water to the pumper. The hydrant person must pull the supply hose for the back of the pumper and "wrap the hydrant" until the pumper drives off. This keeps the supply hose anchored at the hydrant and keeps hose from getting drug down the roadway behind the pumper as it drives away.
2.) Room to Work: When affixing adapters, and "charging the hydrant" or turning on the hydrant, adapters and wrenches have a tendency to fall victim to gravity. This problem can be compounded by these items getting lost in the snow. Three feet is vital to quickly find a dropped piece of hardware.
3.) Safety: Some may ask, "Why do I need to shovel the back of the hydrant?" "They can get to the front of the hydrant." When "charging the hydrant" or turning on the hydrant, for safety reason, the hydrant person MUST stand behind the hydrant. The hydrant person MUST NEVER stand in front of the hydrant or to the side of the hydrant. If a hydrant cap, coupling or adapter were to not be securely affixed or become damaged, the water pressure could blow the cap, coupling or adapter off, causing injury to the hydrant person. Once again, having all sides (front, right, left and BACK) is vital for proper and safe hydrant operations.
If you have a hydrant on your property, we ask that you shovel your hydrant to help us out. If you are unable to shovel your hydrant due to health reasons, etc., attempt to educate your neighbors about our "Adopt a Hydrant" program and ask them for assistance. If you rent, please seek permission from your landlord/property owner. If you have a neighbor who is elderly, or who otherwise can not shovel a fire hydrant, please offer to help shovel the hydrant on their property. In any event, we would like to stress, please seek permission to access another's property.
We would also like to stress, please ONLY shovel your hydrant if the conditions are safe to do so, you are well visible and not in danger of being struck when working near the roadway, and you are physically able to do so. You should NEVER put your safety in jeopardy when shoveling the hydrants.