Buried Hydrants: A Common And Dangerous Sight In West Michigan

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NORTON SHORES, Mich. (Feb. 13, 2014) – Between shoveling driveways, sidewalks, and around mailboxes, there are likely a lot of cold and tired arms around West Michigan.  But the fire hydrant is one place that should take top priority every time the snow starts to pile up.

All winter long we’ve heard warnings about the seconds saved by taking time to clear snow away from hydrants.

For two decades, Tom Hoch has cleared a path.

“This is about the worst that it has been since we’ve lived here but every year it’s my duty to do,” he said.

The hydrant sits in front of his home at the corner of Leon St. and Castle St. in Norton Shores.  Hoch admits, it’s not an easy chore to keep up with this winter.

“So far, probably 15 times,” he said.  “If I can help take that time away from a firefighter having to dig out around a fire hydrant or something like that.  I think it’s the right thing to do.”

This past weekend, volunteer groups from Grandville, Jenison, and Fennville, grabbed shovels to clear the way for emergency crews, so they can save time when it really counts.

In Portage on Thursday, firefighters had to spend precious time digging out hydrants before focusing solely on putting out an apartment fire, allowing time for the fire to spread.

“Most fires, what they say is it takes about 30 to 60 seconds for that fire to double in size,” said Portage Asst. Fire Chief, Stacy French.  “So time is critical when it comes to obtaining a water source.”

It was a similar situation in Muskegon County over the weekend where firefighters had to hunt for a buried water source in Roosevelt Park.

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