Fire chief reminds residents to clear hydrants of snow

Matt Gardner
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Snow partially obscures a fire hydrant on 10th Street East. Prince Albert Fire Department officials are reminding residents and business owners to keep their fire hydrants clear of snow over the winter, as any delay for firefighters in finding a hydrant can have dangerous consequences.

The chief of the Prince Albert Fire Department is reminding residents to help keep fire hydrants clear of snow over the winter months.

Fire Chief Les Karpluk suggested that residents adopt a proactive approach by tackling the problem early after a snowfall.

“The easiest thing is when the snow falls, get out there and just shovel around it while it’s nice and light,” Karpluk said.

“People who have fire hydrants that are maybe by their driveway, be really cautious. Don’t be packing and don’t be shoveling snow to cover up the hydrant or to obscure it.”

Residents should avoid burying fire hydrants in the course of shoveling when clearing yards or commercial parking lots on larger properties.

While the fire department has a map of hydrants throughout the city, any delay in locating or accessing a hydrant can cause fires to grow rapidly -- with potentially disastrous or even life-threatening consequences.

Karpluk highlighted the dangers that may be caused by hidden hydrants.

“Let me paint the picture for you,” he said. “Let’s say we get a call today and we go. We’re looking for a hydrant and … we’re going ‘Holy cow, we haven’t seen a hydrant anywhere around here.’

“Worst-case scenario is we need to pull out the book and start flipping through it, look for the street -- it’s a book, it’s not a GPS … go, ‘Oh, there it is. It’s three houses from here. Oh, it’s under snow. We’ve got to find it.’”

The easiest thing is when the snow falls, get out there and just shovel around it while it’s nice and light. Fire Chief Les Karpluk

“So we’re going to lose minutes -- minutes,” he added. “Who knows how long? So it’s not good. There’s no good in it.”

Fire department staff members periodically inspect hydrants throughout the city as part of their regular winter checks and clear snow if necessary.

Ideally, residents and business owners should strive to keep a clear area approximately one metre in diameter around each fire hydrant.

On the positive side, Karpluk said that he has been impressed driving around the city by the number of residents shoveling out their hydrants.

Noting that it generally takes less than five minutes to shovel around a hydrant, he thanked residents and business owners who have kept the areas around their fire hydrants clear.

He implored residents incapable of shoveling out their own hydrants to give the fire department a call at (306) 953-4200.

“Call us -- we’ll go do it,” Karpluk said. “I’d rather send a guy out in a situation like that and use the whole 15 minutes of his time before he gets there than to have a problem if we needed the water supply.”

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