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Access to Hydrants During Wildfire

Access to Hydrants During Wildfire

During a wildfire incident, firefighters rely upon rapid access to water supplies such as the hydrants which serve Ken-Caryl. Finding and accessing these hydrants in the event of an emergency is critical and can mean the difference in saving your home.

If hydrants are hidden by vegetation, snow, decorations or vehicles, they can be difficult to find, thus posing another major problem for a firefighting crew. During the initial attack and structural protection phases of fighting a wildland fire, crews must remain highly mobile. Rapid connections to fire hydrants to protect your home and refill depleted tanks on the engine or brush truck are critical to success and safety.

Hydrants must be visible and accessible, allowing firefighters to connect a large hose on each side and open the hydrant with a large wrench on top. Landscaping surrounding the hydrant in your yard can make the hydrant difficult to find and challenging for hose connections and use of the hydrant wrench. The 2012 International Fire Code states:

(d) 507.5.4 Obstruction. 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.
(e) 507.5.5 Clear space around hydrants. A 3-foot clear space shall be maintained around the circumference of fire hydrants except as otherwise required or approved.

The Ken-Caryl Firewise Board asks for your cooperation in keeping trees, shrubs, landscaping and other obstacles away from the hydrant so firefighters can easily locate and access the hydrant under emergency conditions.

Staying Mobile
Apparatus mobility in the Wildland Urban Interface is extremely important given the terrain that may be encountered, as well as the fact that at any time wind can change direction, sending embers and fire in a completely different direction and possibly threatening fire apparatus and crew. To ensure firefighter, citizen and apparatus safety, fire crews must continuously assess fire behavior, weather, fuel types and water supply access. Fire apparatus will typically be backed into your driveway for a quick escape. Firefighters must be prepared to cut and run should conditions deteriorate. This means crews must be prepared to disconnect hoses at any point and leave them at your home.

Adopt a Fire Hydrant
When snowstorms hit and large snow banks are left from road, parking lot and driveway clearing, the Firewise Board asks you to consider adopting a fire hydrant by taking a moment to clear snow from around your “adopted” fire hydrant. As roads are cleared, the piling of snow along the road can cover or obstruct the visibility of fire hydrants. Snow blowers and plows can also bury or damage hydrants. Keeping fire hydrants clear and visible is helpful to firefighters year-round when trying to locate hydrants in the event of an emergency. The few minutes saved can be the difference in saving a life and property.

Preparing for Wildfire
Join the Firewise Board for “Preparing for Wildfire in Ken-Caryl,” an evening of education and information, Wednesday, Sept. 14 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Shaffer Room at the Ranch House.

This article appeared in the Aug. 10, 2016 issue of Life at Ken-Caryl.

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