Digging out the hydrants

By MORGAN MANNS
STAFF WRITER
Taking the time to remove piles of snow from in front of one’s home can be more important than most people realize.
While fighting a fire at 533 S. Main St. Tuesday night, the division was unable to immediately access the fire hydrant due to it “being completely covered and obstructed by snow,” according to Fostoria Fire Chief Keith Loreno.
“The time that it takes us to dig out that hydrant is taking time away from us being able to fight the fire,” Loreno said. “Time is precious in situations such as this.”
In a press release from Loreno, he gave a “special thanks to the unknown citizens who started removing snow (from) around the hydrant” while firefighters were attempting to extinguish the fire.
He said that the hydrant was buried so far in the snow when they arrived that they “couldn’t even see it.” But two unidentified individuals began to dig around the hydrant and, with the help of one firefighter, they were able to make the hydrant accessible.
“In past years it hasn’t been an issue; we’ve had really mild winters,” he said. “Now, people might simply forget. And with the amount of snowfall we’ve had and the accumulation, there’s not a whole lot of places to put it anymore.”
The standard distance between fire hydrants is 300-500 feet, according to Loreno. Fostoria has 765 fire hydrants located on various street corners throughout the city.
Loreno said there should ideally be three feet around the circumference of the hydrant so the division can access it efficiently.
Built-up snow around a fire hydrant can also cause problems for the division when trying to get the caps off of it.
Loreno said the fire trucks do keep water in their tanks. However, they always hook the pumps to the hydrants in the event that they would need more water.
Also, he said they fill the tank back up with water from the hydrant before leaving the scene to be prepared for another emergency if one were to occur on their way back to the station.
“It’s absolutely critical for us to be able to get to the water so we can put the fire out,” he said.
According to the release, the fire was reported at 7:16 p.m. Tuesday. The two-story structure, occupied by two adults and two children at the time of the fire, suffered heavy fire damage to the kitchen area and smoke damage to the remainder of the residence. One adult suffered minor burns.
According to Loreno, it appeared the fire originated in the kitchen where the stove was located; however, although there were items found that indicate someone was cooking, the damage was so extensive that he could not confirm whether the stove was on or not at the time the fire began.
The American Red Cross provided the family with food, seasonal clothing, a place to stay and personal hygiene items, according to release.
Just as homeowners are asked to keep their sidewalks and driveways clear in the event of an emergency, Loreno advised it’s just as important to keep fire hydrants clear.
“We’re asking the residents to keep (they hydrants) clear of snow,” he said. “There could be an emergency in your house or your neighborhood and we want to be able to find it and access it as quickly as possible.”

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