Twin Cities: Live Near a Fire Hydrant? Adopt It!
With all of the snow the Twin Cities area had had recently, officials in communities throughout the metro are asking residents to "adopt" fire hydrants near their homes. Keeping them clear of snow and making sure they aren't blocked by snow banks is a matter of public safety.
Burnsville MN has 4,000 fire hydrants. Eagan MN has 5,000. The City of Saint Paul has nearly 10,000. That's a lot of fire hydrants to keep clear. As a result, nearly every city in the metro has a variation of the adopt-a-hydrant program. But you don't need to officially "adopt" a hydrant to have an interest in clearing snow from one near your house if you see it is buried.
Hydrants that can't be easily seen under snow and those that can't be reached because of snowbanks put lives and property in danger. Prime examples of how this can hamper rescue efforts occurred last week when the Twin Cities was hit with the largest snowstorm in years. Two people died in a house fire in Minneapolis on Sunday and a three-alarm fire ravaged a commercial building at 822 Prior Avenue in St. Paul, which housed Advance Furniture and Leather Repair.
"When we got there, we had difficulty finding the hydrants," said St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard. "It delayed some of our operations. Because of the snow drifts, we didn't have the water we needed. Would it have made a difference? I don't want to speculate. But it was a big fire."
Although nobody can directly blame a death or major loss on slow access to a fire hydrant, fire officials have made it clear that blocked hydrants are a big concern. Although participation in the various hydrant adoption programs is low, fire officials hope the message gets out that clearing hydrants is important. One group that has responded is the Elks Club. In Brooklyn Park, the local chapter has pledged to clear (and keep clear) 100 hydrants.