Salka: Hydrant Work

It’s the middle of the winter and we are facing another major snow storm. Sometimes we (all of us) have lots of snow and sometimes none at all. Let's get right to it.

Everywhere I go I see hydrants, or should I say I can barely see them. It looks to me like nobody is digging out hydrants after we have a snowstorm. We all know how important water is to our firefighting tactics. There are articles every month on water supply and master streams etc. And then I drive by hundreds, yes hundreds of hydrants where you can only see the very top sticking through the snow.

  • John Salka will be presenting "Aerial or Tower; And The Winner Is?" and "You Are Not In the Front Seat to Beep the Horn" at Firehouse World in San Diego, Feb. 17-20.?

Now some of you are going to tell me that you have attached the hydrant locating rods to your hydrants so they will stick up through the snow so you can find your hydrants. Wrong! those devices are so you can look down the street and locate a hydrant (that has been cleared of snow) over the piles of snow in the street. I remember as the captain of Engine 48 in The Bronx that we went out after big storms and dug out our hydrants. It was never a favorite of the men but it got done. Get out there!

And another thing. What do you do if you discover an out of service hydrant? Again, we don’t want to stop at that hydrant again only to rediscover that it doesn’t work. When a hydrant is found to be unserviceable, it has to be marked or identified. One of the easiest and fastest ways is to get some hydrant discs. Thin white plastic rings with a hole in the center that allow you to remove a hydrant outlet cap, place the disc, and replace the cap to hold the disc in place. The next time you or another crew drives up to or past this hydrant you can instantly see it is OOS and you can continue down the street to the next usable hydrant.

So there are two small and simple hydrant tactics that you can begin doing. Simple yet vital to our important firefighting responsibilities. 

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