Firefighters Urge Homeowners Dig Out Hydrants

By Ron Sanders, WBZ-TV

BEVERLY (CBS) — Beverly firefighters said fire hydrants buried in snow banks delayed their fight with a three-alarm fire in a three-story duplex on Bennett Street Tuesday.

Off-duty Beverly firefighter and E-M-T Scott Steeves was passing by on his way home from his shift. He said he called it in, then he and a neighbor went to the second floor to get a man out of his bedroom.

“I could hear the fire crackling above me in the attic space. We kind of forcibly had to suggest to him he had to leave the house,” said Steeves.

WBZ-TV’s Ron Sanders reports.

Then as fire companies arrived, they said they found two of the three hydrants they needed buried in snow banks. “We end up losing five minutes or so just trying to find the hydrants and dig them out and those initial few minutes when we get to a fire scene are crucial for us,” explained Lt. Donald Philpot.

Scott Steeves said he dug out about 40 hydrants after last week’s major storm. Beverly has about 1,600 hydrants. Some remain partly visible, some are completely buried. So Beverly firefighters use a metal detector to find them.

Beverly firefighters say they’re able to dig out several hydrants, but some of them get buried again by snow plows. They ask for the public’s help.

“If you have a hydrant near your house, it only makes sense that you would want to have that dug out. You’re helping yourself, you’re helping your neighbors and you’re helping us,” said Lt. Philpot.

The City of Boston has more than 13,000 fire hydrants. Firefighters, armed with maps, shovel them out between calls but the city’s web site includes shoveling out hydrants on your street in its list of snow removal regulations.

  • mark

    Firefighters should dig them out they have a lot of down time (as I know they do)
    We pay great money on taxes. Between the DPW & the fire department they should help clear them as well

  • emom

    I agree, and they use to , not all that long ago,, after all the towns cover them up so they should UNDE cover them,, I am not going oiut there and breaking my back and a shovel to clear them,, its not my responsibility.

    • dave

      Mark and emom,if your house was on fire i bet you would change your opinion on this matter, now get out there and shovel out your hydrants you lazy bums!

      • Cynic

        Sorry Dave this is what Firemen are PAID to do. I can understand why they no longer Wax the Trucks between calls but really now… They have to do SOMETHING for the Money.I would never call these Guys Bums. But Lazy? I’ll have to think about that.

  • macmum

    We have always dug out our hydrant across the street from our house. The bottom line is if Your house in on fire..wouldn’t you want the fire fighters to be able to find the thing sooner rather than later?i say Yes! So be proactive…be your own best friend and dig the thing out!

  • MIke

    I live in a community where we use rural water from ponds, flumes, etc and the DPW cleans up these areas. If I lived in the city, I would help the department out and myself by shoveling out the hydrant. It’s not my job to do it, but I wouldn’t expect the guys and girls on the department to shovel out 13000 hydrants. You never know when it’s going to be needed and I’d rather be safe then sorry. Especially in the times where departments are have very low staffing because of budget cuts. Unless you are physically incapable, you should be able to help.

  • emom

    wait first of all these piles of snow on the hydrants are more than I could ever handle , for that matter large plows , back hoe plows dump tons of snow over them every season,, explain to me how any one should be responsibile for that mess, if its not covered that is easy,, but a 10 foot high pile of ice and snow is literally not easy for anyone with shovels to clear, Besides, Like I said firedepartments use to come out and clear the hydrants in my town.. OH but now they expect the hiome owner to do it , just like the sidewalks, OH and speaking of that, news flash,, sidewalks were cleared by the tioen this year guess what the kids still walk in the street, figure that one out,,

  • emom

    Oh an I agree about them being cleared, but should it be if I dont my house is at risk, how fair is that, I no more want my house to burn to the ground, be if its impossible to do then what , I would like an answer to that one.. 10 foot high piles and take up a whole corner about 20 feet or more,,, and remember we have to clear our driveways and walk ways,, no time and to tired after that,,, no the town buried it they should have the decency to come and clear the mess, especially before its all frozen,, OOPPS to late it already is,, NOW WHAT SHOULD WE DO… ANY ONE HAVE A HAMMER AND CHISEL

  • Cynic

    Can’t find the Hydrants?…. Who stopped putting the rods with the little pennant on them that they used to use to find them?

  • Cynic

    While we are on the subject…….A few years ago the Discovery Channel did a Series called “Firehouse USA” about Engine 37 and Ladder 26 on Huntington Ave. For a time there were DVD’S available. The Discovery Channel doesn’t have this series on thier website… Doe’s anyone know where I might find it?

  • Matt

    right Cynic, I have a hydrant in front of my house and it has the rod on it which from the ground is about 6 ft high —

  • Jimmy

    If you didn’t want to dig out the hydrant you should not have bought a house with a hydrant in front of it. But I bet you don’t complain about the slight decrease in your home owners insurance for living close to the hydrant. I know I don’t, so I just dig it out. Sometimes is it harder to do than others but it needs to get done.

  • emom

    Oh gee If I knew I had to do public worlks to buy a home I probably would not have bought a house, Last I knew there was not anything in the contract that stated A home owner must clear sidewalks, and hydrants… and besides, just a note the hydrant for me is on the other side of the stre 3 houses down , so seems I dont have to clear it but hey why dont others , well for the same reason oh and the flags on them cant see them if the pile is over the flags .,.. so there

  • Shoveler

    I bit the bullet and uncovered the hydrant that is sort of across the street from my house because, you know what? I’d love it if the fire fighters could use the precious five minutes uncovering the hydrant to instead put out a fire on my block. Unfortunately, that means all the lazy jerks who did not uncover the hydrant that is in front of their house will also reap the benefits of my efforts. Too bad I can’t somehow take that five minutes back if it was THEIR houses on fire. People are so selfish and so lazy, it makes me sick to my stomach.

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