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How you can be a fire hydrant hero this winter

Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 3:33 PM EST
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Are the fire hydrants in your neighborhood buried in snowbanks? If so, that can be a serious problem if firefighters need immediate access. Our Kayla Martin explains what one community is doing about it.

“If a firefighter is taking an extra two, four, six minutes to clear out a hydrant, that’s two, four or 6 minutes that that firefighter could be inside a building searching for a loved one, a family member, a friend,” Williston Firefighter Prescott Nadeau said.

Nadeau says those minutes lost can cause an exponential fire growth.

Fire hydrant access in the winter is an issue for most towns and cities. South Burlington Fire Chief Terry Francis says that a little help from the public can go a long way.

“Anytime that we can shave a couple of minutes off of getting an adequate water source to a fire scene saves property and saves lives,” Francis said.

Bruce Hoar, the director of Public Works in Williston, agrees.

While digging out hydrants is the responsibility of the city’s public works water and sewer department, they simply don’t have enough staff for all the hydrants.

“Which in Williston is only four people. So, with 600-plus hydrants, it’s quite a bit,” Hoar said.

Because of this, Nadeau started a project called the Hydrant Hero Program. It’s an incentive program to encourage the public to help uncover hydrants.

To participate, snap a photo of yourself digging out a hydrant from the snow, or after you’ve done it, post it on Twitter or Instagram and tag the Williston fire department. But there’s more.

“We’re looking for a 3-foot radius around the entire fire hydrant. And if possible, a path that leads to the road,” Nadeau said.

You’ll get a chance to win a gift card to a local business but you can only participate if you’re a Williston resident.

The South Burlington Fire Department also has their own program called Adopt a Hydrant but there’s no incentive other than helping out a neighbor.

“It really helps all of us out. And it helps their neighbor,” Francis said. “Hopefully you’ll never need it. But if you if you do, it’s nice to have quick access to it.”

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