Ask a firefighter

Posted: Monday, February 23, 2004

Question: With the incredible snowfall this winter, I've noticed the hydrants around my neighborhood are buried with snow. Is this something I should take care of or will the fire crews get to them?

Answer: The basic answer is yes. Yes, the fire crews will get to them and yes, you can help. This winter's snowfall has been tremendous compared to years past, and this has made snow removal around the hydrants especially difficult.

The undertaking of clearing snow from around hydrants is a winter-long project because of the continuing accumulation of snow.

The crews of Kenai Fire Department are out daily working in the district using backhoes and shovels to clear snow from around hydrants, but our efforts are limited to the number of people working that particular day, along with responding to emergencies when they arise.

Within the city of Kenai, we have 500 hydrants to maintain and all of them are susceptible to snow buildup. The city of Soldotna has a similar scenario with approximately 250 hydrants to clear.

So how can you help?

Similar to the city of Anchorage, we here in Kenai have had an "Adopt a Hydrant" program in place for many years. Citizens can adopt a hydrant or hydrants for the winter with the intention of keeping it clear of snow. The program is successful and straightforward.

Here's how it works: Simply identify a hydrant(s) within your neighborhood that you would be willing to maintain for the winter. Call your local fire department and identify that particular hydrant, and we'll file the information, thus freeing fire crews to concentrate on the remaining hydrants in the city. A simple guideline to use when clearing around the hydrant would be to provide an area approximately 4 feet in diameter, allowing a firefighter to work in while attaching hoses and appliances.

The work to maintain your adopted hydrant can continue throughout the year, clearing away brush or tall grass to make it cleaner looking, but also making it easier to access in event of an emergency.

We applaud the efforts of our local citizens who have taken it upon themselves to clear the hydrants near their homes and we say, "Thank you."

Efforts made to help make your community safer, such as Community Watch, Crime Stoppers or Adopt a Hydrant programs are reputable causes with benefits that show within your area. If you are interested in adopting a hydrant in your neighborhood, contact the Kenai Fire Department at 283-7666.

This column was provided by the Kenai Fire Department. If you have a question for a law enforcement or emergency services agency, mail it to P.O. Box 3009, Kenai, AK 99611, e-mail the Clarion at, call 283-7551 or fax 283-3299.

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