Prepare for winter weather fire protection challenges

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snow cleared around a fire hydrant

Winter weather is on the way. It's time for your fire department to make plans with agencies and organizations responsible for snow removal and water distribution to ensure personnel have access to fire hydrants, buildings and critical fire protection features, such as fire sprinkler and standpipe connections.

The code

The International Fire Code (IFC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Uniform Fire Codes have requirements to ensure the safety of the public and firefighters.

Unobstructed access to fire hydrants shall be maintained at all times. The fire department shall not be deterred or hindered from gaining immediate access to fire protection equipment or fire hydrants.

International Fire Code, 2018

For best access: Clear space around hydrants. Maintain a 3-foot clear space around the circumference of fire hydrants, except as otherwise required or approved.

Program ideas

Here are some ways to keep fire hydrants accessible during snowstorms:

  • Consider an Adopt-a-Hydrant program. Through public service messages and door-to-door contacts, ask neighbors to shovel out hydrants when they do their walks and to immediately report any faulty hydrants that appear to be damaged or leaking.
  • Work with public works or the street department to identify high priority hydrant locations that must be kept clear.
  • Consider contracting with a private snow removal service to have hydrants cleared.
  • Install hydrant flags or snow markers that identify a hydrant's location beneath several feet of snow.
  • Check drafting sites or dry hydrants to confirm the water access is not covered by ice or the dry hydrant is plugged.

More information on the web

Social media cards

Use the cards below by themselves or include supporting content with them to reinforce fire hydrant/snow removal messages in your community.

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