Hydrant Snorkel: Our Goal

Our goal: (Save lives, protect property and enhance the quality of life)

Fire suppression in snow country is more demanding and dangerous than anywhere else because of slick dark roads that lead to five times the call ratio as compared to non snow and ice areas. The fire hydrants in the snow country have its very unique trials. NFPA standards require hydrants every 1000’ for the building less than 3,600 square feet and the duration of water flow will be two hours or more. The first arriving fire engine must establish fire flow water within four minutes.

How do you keep the hydrant accessible all the time 24/7, when a common snow storm can dump five feet of snow in a 48 hour period? Then there are the types of snow, heavy full of water, or light like in Valdez Alaska or the third kind of snow the kind snowplows make, crushed snow and ice or what we call concrete snow. The latter kind is the greatest eraser of all your shovel work. After a long day of digging out hydrants the snow plow goes by and now you know you have been shoveling just for the show and tell to the public.

why and how come and at what cost comes to mind. The public thinks the fire department is responsible for the clearing of fire hydrants. OK, lets crunch the numbers invested on an annual basses. The average Firefighter makes about $45,000 a year plus benefits or $38 bucks an hour. On average it takes 20 minutes to dig and move to the next hydrant. 3 per hour, times 8 hours that equals 21 per Firefighter per day ($304). Take South Lake Tahoe has 840 fire hydrants that’s 40 days ($12,160) to dig fire hydrants just once. In most locations the snow comes and goes like the tide. One week you could have five feet of snow and the week next 12 inches. This brutal dance goes on for six months or more.

To dig out all the fire hydrants in south Lake Tahoe twice a month for six months it would cost ($145,920)That is still not 24/7 hydrant available for use. That is just 12 times in six months. The other cost is that Firefighters are inherently action people, they like to plan ahead. Keep in mind with budget cut backs comes, limited man power. So the solution to quick response times to a medical or car wreck or a fire call is to have the squad, medical unit or fire engine with them all day out in the cold.

The idea of having access to more water came after multiple times of responding to fire calls and using up the 500 to1000 gallons of water on each fire truck and waiting for the tenders to show up. And being a mixed department meant the water shuttles could take fifteen minutes to show up, depending on availability of personnel qualified to drive. We had to plan on using a quick attack blitz or go defensive. With the Hydrant Snorkel we can now lay in year around and flow whatever at whatever GPM the hydrant could supply before installing the Hydrant Snorkel.

The snorkel allows us make the correct choice in how to fight the fire. (TO WIN)! The knowledge that we have not allowed the weather to change our water supply just because of snow, allows us the room to concentrate on other aspects of the fight, like arriving safe and setting up the scene. It is commonly known that the first few monuments on scene dictate the outcome! 

We at Hoodland Fire are just like all the rest of the small town departments around this country, we like to win! And you always have one guy (Lt. John Creel) if left to his own devices he will come up with a big win. John’s patented Hydrant Snorkel has been in used now for over twelve years in the heat of the battle up in government camp, where the snow is not uncommon to be far more than five feet deep. John Creel saw a need and started making proto types the first on worked just fine but he kept tinkering with it until he feels it’s perfect. The first goal was to keep it simple next was to have water flowing in the same amount of time as in the summertime. Also to be able to adjust the height of the Hydrant Snorkel again without digging to accommodate the ever changing height of the snow. The snorkel can be added on to. The snorkel has a quick connect feature on the top. All that is needed is your choice of a 2’ or ‘4 extinction and you have elevated the hydrant to the new desired height. John designed the Hydrant snorkel to be installed in less than 90 seconds.

The end product mimics the street hydrant so closely that any fire fighter would figure it out within 30 seconds even if they had never seen it before. The Hydrant Snorkel attaches directly to the steamer port. The two side ports are left unaffected. The extended wrench comes straight off the hydrant nut and turns exactly the same way. The stortz fitting attaches directly to the supply line and you’re done; you’re ready for water. The end product can with-stand continual passes by the snow plows, grinders and snow can piling up all winter. The fact is the more snow that is piled around the snorkel the easier it is to use. The limits to the height of the snorkel is the top height of you tallest truck. The snow bank can be ten feet tall. All you have to do is step off the top of your truck with the supply line and hook up.

Our chose of manufactures was again simple. Pete Karlson from POK flew out and stayed for two days testing our proto types and looking at the ones in the field that have been working for the past twelve years. The light in Pete’s eyes came on almost immediately he knew this is a game changer. Not just for more than three million fire hydrant that are buried in snow, but the over view of how the strategies and tactics would transform. Pete said “the hardest thing to overcome will be that the fire industry is more than 200 years of tradition; education and acceptance to a better way of doing what has been established will be tough”. POK is now the manufacture and is very enthusiastic about Hydrant Snorkel’s future. POK has produced the first mass production of Hydrant Snorkel and it is made exclusively in the United States, with worldwide distribution and sales force.

Another item to overcome is the long standing contractual agreements between fire departments paying water districts to clear the streets and fire hydrants. I visited an Alaskan Fire district and a Water district in the meeting the matter of paying two million dollars a year to the water district came up. The water district did not want to lose out on the contract/work and the Fire district did not want to lose the public /funding money.
To stay at the panicle of the fire career game, fire departments must be asking how we can do better and never be satisfied with the old adage of “that is the way we have always done it”. It may be as simple as the Hydrant Snorkel or as complex as a new airway or hydraulic battery operated ram device.

The Hydrant Snorkel idea is not like crushing atoms, keep it simple. 

Hoodland Fire is located on Mt. Hood Oregon, where we have year around skiing. We know about lots, and lots of snow. We are best when we have a task at hand, but we like to work smart.
The “Hydrant Snorkel” has realistically become our port in the storm.
At this point we feel the hydrant snorkel is proven and ready for worldwide sales. FEMA AFG and Fireman’s fund grants are available for the purchase of Hydrant Snorkel.

John Creel will be retiring from Hoodland Fire Department soon. I Scott Freeman will be heading up the sales and marketing department. I have put 25 plus years into construction and volunteering at Hoodland Fire Department. The timing is right for a new start. Like most Fire fighters we are both dedicated to Public Safety, Fire fighting and we are Goal/Win oriented.

Sff. Scott Freeman
Hydrant Snorkel, LLC.
503 880 3588

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