Fire officials ask for help clearing snow off hydrants

Posted at 9:29 PM, Feb 17, 2015

Grand Rapids, Mich. -- Firefighters in Grand Rapids are asking  for the public's help to clear fire hydrants that are covered in snow.

Earlier this month, the department announced the Adopt a Hydrant program, and as the snow continues to fall, the amount of covered hydrants is on the rise.

It's a sight that Grand Rapids Fire Department Deputy Chief Kevin Sehlmeyer said that he sees on almost a daily basis.

"Snow blowing around the hydrants, I've noticed that on my way in, in the morning coming to work. So, we still need the help of our citizens to help us clear in the City of Grand Rapids, 7,300 hydrants," said Sehlmeyer.

That's not all, there are more than 6,000 other hydrants outside city limits that are still a part of the Grand Rapids Water System. Sehlmeyer said that with more than 13,000 hydrants, it's nearly impossible to clear them all.

"One of the things that I've also noticed is a lot of times these hydrants are getting cleared out on the sidewalk side. We actually need them cleared out on the street side. The fire truck is going to approach on the street and the quicker we can make access, the seconds that we save may make a difference in an emergency in your neighborhood," said Sehlmeyer. "What it does, is it just delays the time it takes to hook to the hydrant. I would equate it to this, if you have to crawl over the snow bank to get at the fire hydrant, it's going to take time," said Sehlmeyer.

On the city's website, anyone can sign up to adopt a hydrant, essentially taking on the responsibility of shoveling the snow to keeping it clear in case of a fire emergency.

"It could be that everybody on the block adopts that hydrant, right? Because I mean it affects more than one house. So, that's all we are asking. We are asking for you to help us to clear these hydrants out," said Sehlmeyer. "I would challenge you that if you were going to take the time to take a picture on Facebook, that you would do the opposite and shovel it out and post it on Facebook, and let all your friends know you are a apart of the solution," said Sehlmeyer.