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Firefighters urge residents to keep hydrants clear of brush

Mark Miller
Whether hydrants are covered by plant growth or snow, if a crew can’t find it, or has to clear it, those are precious moments when fighting a fire.

Now’s the time to make sure the fire hydrant closest to your home or business is ready for use.

In the event of a fire, every second counts which is why Park City Fire District Marshal Mike Owens says to take time now to clear a 3-foot wide berth around all fire hydrants so crews can quickly connect a fire hose.

“All winter long people hear us, ‘clear out your fire hydrants here, clear out your fire hydrants, clear out your fire hydrants,’” Owens said. “Now's a good time to look at the brush around your fire hydrant. We're asking anyone who has a fire hydrant on their property just to make sure that it's not being overgrown by trees or overgrown by any bushes or shrubbery or anything like that.”

Whether hydrants are covered by plant growth or snow, if a crew can’t find it, or has to clear it, those are precious moments when fighting a fire.

“If they're covered by those things, we can't find them when we're looking for them, even now,” he said. “So, as we're driving down the road, you know, we're looking for the flags that are supposed to be on the hydrants, we're looking to see where they are. And if they're buried behind a tree or a giant bush then we're not able to find it. Or if it's buried within that, then we have a hard time getting in there to hook up our stuff.”

It’s the responsibility of the neighborhood to ensure the closest hydrant can be quickly located. Owens says it’s the responsibility of the water providers – and not the fire district – to ensure that hydrants are in good operating condition.

“They examine the fire hydrants annually and then they get tested every couple of years to make sure they're opening and closing the way they're supposed to open and close," he said.

If a hydrant is leaking, Owens said to contact the fire department and it will let the appropriate water company know to fix it.

“Fire hydrants, they freeze and thaw and freeze and thaw and then rust," he said. "So there are times where you're trying to open that thing and the darn thing breaks on us. We hate to see that happen. But we want to make sure that when we turn them on or when we need them, we're able to turn them on.”

Meanwhile, he said the district is hoping for the best and prepared for the worst. While fire conditions are looking better this year than they have in the past several, this week’s hot weather and lack of rain are drying out the spring growth creating ripe conditions for wildfires.