Firefighters say not clearing hydrants can slow down operations

GLENDALE (WITI) -- Usually, water is a firefighter's best friend -- but on bitterly cold days, water can make a firefighter's job even tougher. Firefighters say that due to the snow and ice we see in winter, finding and utilizing a fire hydrant can be a challenge.

"Our biggest problem in the winter time will first be to find a fire hydrant so, with our snow cover and that, it really is helpful when residents keep the fire hydrants in their general area shoveled out so we can find them," North Shore Fire Battalion Chief Rick Boehlke said.

It is a reminder the North Shore Fire Department displays outside its Glendale firehouse -- but in residential areas, some hydrants are covered in snow.

"Often, if they're covered in snow, it makes our job a little harder and slows the operation down," Boehlke said.

Even when hydrants are visible, Boehlke says the bone-chilling temperatures could compromise hydrants from the inside out.

"Just before the winter season kicks in, they go around and actually pump out the hydrants to make sure there's no water remaining or if it's a leaking hydrant, it'll freeze and make it impossible for us to use," Boehlke said.

Boehlke says moving on to the next hydrant could cost someone their house.

"In our world, it could add two to five minutes in trying to get water and fire grows immensely during that time so it can really slow our operation down and make it more difficult," Boehlke said.

A rise in temperature will make frozen hydrants less likely, and Boehlke is asking residents to help Mother Nature get rid of the snow as well.

Boehlke says residents should also be on the lookout for leaking hydrants. It is important to call the Fire Department or Public Works Department and get the leaking hydrant fixed.