As published in the Record Journal, Sunday January 16, 2011
From Wallingford Fire Department IAFF Local 1326 on its Facebook page: “After the recent record breaking snow, most fire hydrants in town [are] covered with snow. The fire and water departments don’t have the resources to clear all the hydrants. Please take time out to clear the fire hydrants near your house. The time you spend now may save your life or your neighbor’s in [the] event of a fire. Don’t take the gamble; wintertime is the busiest time of the year for house fires.”
No one likes to clear more snow than they need to, especially in a winter like this one.
It takes just a few extra minutes to clear the fire hydrant on or near your property. I cleared the one on the corner down the road from my house after the last storm (one week ago) when I couldn’t even see it driving by. After Wednesday’s storm, if it’s still buried when I get home I’ll clear it again, as it is the closest one to my house. I know it’s there; the responding fire unit(s) may not. The last thing they need to be doing when responding to an emergency is to be searching to find a working source of water and then having to dig it out. Time is critical when battling a fire; spending time doing these tasks during a fire emergency adds to risk of injury or the possible loss of life.
We can have the discussion about whether or not this is already budgeted into the departments’ costs to clear all the hydrants in town after each storm or whether we are or aren’t getting value out of our taxes paid to the town.
You can’t put a price on safety or insurance.
You pay for auto insurance in case you have an accident. You may pay for more coverage for uninsured motorists because you don’t want to run the risk of getting sued out of everything you own in the event something bad occurs.
The same is true for your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance; you pay for these things “just in case.”
It costs nothing except a little extra labor to clear the snow from that hydrant.
Let’s make a New Year’s Resolution that’s easy to keep and makes for a better town — let’s try to be better neighbors in 2011. Even if we already are good neighbors, let’s take it up a notch. If you have never put a lot of active thought into it then it’s a great time to start. Neighborly things still occur, (my neighbor around the corner pushed me out of the snow when I got stuck the other day), but they seem to occur with a lot less frequency these days.
Some people don’t bother to clear their sidewalks in the winter (despite the ordinance that they must). In the autumn there are some that don’t bother clearing and bagging the leaves in their yard. These folks either blow leaves to the curb loose, or worse, they do nothing and let them blow all over the neighborhood. People park their cars in their driveway to a degree where they stick all the way out to the street and block the main sidewalk. These are just some examples — all minor things with none that is really life threatening.
The inability to put out a fire for lack of water supply is the exception to those points above — it’s a major thing and could be life threatening to both victims of a fire and would-be rescuers.
If you haven’t already, be a good neighbor; put the paper down, head up the street, and clear that hydrant.
I hope it never needs to be used for an emergency in your neighborhood but if it does you’ll be glad you made the effort.