Want to adopt a fire hydrant? It could save lives | VailDaily.com

Want to adopt a fire hydrant? It could save lives

Fire agencies and water and sanitation district call for help keeping hydrants and gas meters clear as snow piles up

Eagle River Water & Sanitation District regulations require clearing about 7 feet of space around fire hydrants.
Eagle River Water & Sanitation District/Courtesy photo

Unless you’re a dog, you probably don’t pay much attention to fire hydrants. This is a good time to notice.

The Eagle River Water & Sanitation District Wednesday issued a call for help for residents to help keep clear the more than 2,000 fire hydrants in the district, which runs from East Vail to Cordillera. The Eagle River Fire Protection District, which runs from Tennessee Pass to Wolcott, is asking residents to “adopt a hydrant” in order to keep them visible and available.

If firefighters have to spend even a few minutes clearing a hydrant at a fire scene it can mean the difference between saving and losing a structure, said Tracy LeClair, the community risk manager and public information officer for the Eagle River Fire Protection District.

LeClair added that neither the fire district nor the water district have the resources to keep that many hydrants clear of snow. And those hydrants are needed in all kinds of weather, cleared to at least 3 feet. The water district’s regulations require 7-foot clearance.

LeClair said an Eagle River Fire crew was dispatched Wednesday morning to an electrical fire that started in a home’s ceiling due to a leaky roof.

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LeClair urged residents to know where the nearest hydrant is to their home and make sure it’s clear. That can be doubly difficult if a private plow company has buried the structure.

Some neighborhoods are more likely to have covered hydrants. Eagle River Water & Sanitation District Communications and Public Affairs Manager Diane Johnson said East Vail, Beaver Creek and Cordillera are some of those areas.

Those communities get a lot of snow, and we appreciate their focus on public safety,” Eagle River Water & Sanitation District Field Operations Manager Niko Nemcanin. “It’s a great help, especially after storms that drop so much snow in a short period of time.”

Gypsum doesn’t usually get nearly the snowfall the upper valley does, but Gypsum Fire Protection District Chief Justin Kirkland said hydrants can get buried there, too.

He recalled a day a few years ago when a hydrant near Eagle Valley High School was buried under a very large pile of snow. Crews using metal detectors took nearly a day to unbury the thing.

While it’s easy to ignore fire hydrants and gas meters, Kirkland said residents need to stay aware of those critical devices.

“It’s critical infrastructure,” Kirkland said. “If we can’t see or find them,” the results could be tragic, he added.

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