Winter Care for Fire Hydrants

Winter Care for Fire Hydrants

The Editor’s Opinion Page

But, Captain, I could have sworn there was a hydrant down this road.

Cold, snow and ice will be the fare of most firemen in this country and Canada for the next five or six months. And a miserable time it can be indeed. For those who haven’t prepared for it, it can be doubly miserable and often tragic.

We are thinking here of water, and the unit that supplies it—the lowly hydrant. A hydrant is rarely used and is often forgotten. But when you need it, you need it badly. In fact, an inoperative hydrant can frequently mean the difference between life and death, between total loss or slight damage.

In summer a defective drain valve will only fill up the barrel with water. In winter this same condition fills the barrel with ice.

And there is no sillier sight than to see a $30,000 pumper idling at a hydrant that a couple of red-faced firemen are futilely trying to get water out of.

Actually, there is no reason why such a situation should ever exist. A hydrant is a well-made, sturdy piece of equipment. Unless vandalized or knocked over by a truck, it will give trouble-free performance for years—with reasonable care.

And that’s the catch—with reasonable care.

The hydrants in the cartoon at the top of this page cannot be said to have received reasonable care or any care for that matter. Yet care of a hydrant is easily and quickly accomplished. You inspect it. And often a visual inspection will do. But not at the beginning of winter.

Before the snow flies, each hydrant in your district must get a thorough going over as described on page 68 of this issue. Barring accidents, this inspection should guarantee good hydrant operation until spring when another thorough inspection is called for.

Winter care of hydrants, however, doesn’t end here. After, and, if necessary, during a snow storm every hydrant should be cleared of snow and ice. This clearing should extend to the street on the working side of the hydrant to permit maneuvering of a pumper.

While on the subject of winter, let’s not forget the apparatus that gets you to the fire. November should be tune-up time. Points, plugs, condensers, carburetor, battery-these are the items that make for sure starts and no stalls. They should be in tip-top condition at all times, but especially in winter when cold weather places an additional burden on a motor.

Chains are another winter item that must be looked to. It’s a little too late to begin replacing links when the first snow falls. Right now a full set of chains should be hanging in a locker, ready for instant use.

So, think cold, think snow, think ice! The more you think about them now, the easier your job of winter fire fighting will be later.

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