5 days after Saturday’s snowfall, snow still covers many city hydrants

City Fire Chief C. Dean Heinbach is reminding residents to clear snow from any hydrants outside their home.

“We clear as many as we can, but we simply do not have the manpower to clear snow away from the estimated 700 hydrants in the city,” Heinbach said on Wednesday.

When nearly 13 inches of snow was dumped in the city during a four-day period last week, firefighters got busy removing snow from hydrants, but they need help, according to the chief.

No one knows when a fire will break out in their home or at a neighbor’s house, Heinbach said, and “the last thing we need to be doing when we arrive is clearing a path to the nearest hydrant. We want to focus on putting the fire out as quickly as possible.”

The city’s snow and ice removal ordinance makes it illegal for anyone to “plow, mound, pile snow or otherwise obstruct any city fire hydrant,” Heinbach said.

The ordinance also requires property owners to keep snow clear of hydrants, he added.

One of the biggest problems firefighters faced last week was finding hydrants completely covered with snow that had been plowed by contractors clearing private parking lots, Heinbach said.

“We found hydrants that were buried 10-feet deep by contractors,” Heinbach said.

He urged contractors and residents to be mindful during the next snowfall to do their best to keep hydrants clear of snow.