It’s that time of year again in Central New York, when the snowbanks have been growing larger and larger all winter. While firefighters have a map of OCWA hydrants they consult en route to a fire, what happens if the hydrant is buried in snow? 

This time of year, it’s always an issue for firefighters to locate hydrants when we’ve had a winters’ worth of heavy snow. OCWA employees do their best to shovel out hydrants whenever possible, but we do not have the staff to consistently clear the over 13,500 hydrants in our system. 

Many fire departments are proactive in adding the hydrant markers, fiberglass posts which stick up several feet above the hydrant, which can help them locate buried equipment. 

But when they don’t have it, they must use valuable time to locate and dig out the hydrant. 

It takes anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes sometimes to shovel a hydrant out, it can be even longer, based on previous weather conditions. It’s a time sensitive issue. Fire doubles in size every minute, so every second matters. 

If you have a hydrant near your house that is not easily accessible because of snow, it is in your best interest to take the time to clear it. 

Clearing the three feet around your neighborhood’s OCWA hydrant could give your local fire department the valuable time needed to save your home in the case of an emergency. You may also have neighbors who are elderly or physically incapable or just don’t have the means to keep that hydrant clean, it’s just better for the neighborhood in general. If you can do it, clean out the hydrant in your neighborhood.