Elmira/Corning Regional Airport


Keeping Hydrants Clear

Written By: Tanja Rekhi
Keeping Hydrants Clear

ELMIRA (WENY) -- This slippery and subzero weather has dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas of the Twin Tiers over the past few months, making things more challenging for our fire fighters battling flames.
     "In winter weather obviously it's a little harder," said Captain Bill Gillette, Elmira Fire Department. "There's some hindrances that happen when we're throwing water. There's potential for slips and falls."
     The Elmira Fire Department responded to a fire that broke out at 2:00 in the morning on February 5, in the middle of a snow storm that dumped 7 inches of snow on the city.
     "Heavy snow was falling," said Captain Gillette. "The guys were met with severe temperatures, severe weather conditions, snow precipitation, immediate freezing. It doesn't make it any easier."
     However, that's not the only thing they worry about around this time of year. captain Gillette says blocked hydrants could cost his team valuable time while fighting a blaze. He says sometimes every second counts.
     "Any help that you can do in your neighborhoods when cleaning off the hydrants is a big help to us because you're also helping yourself in potentially your neighbors," said Capt. Gillette.
     Bryan MacArthur lives near one that is blocked off and says this Winter has been particularly brutal.
     "The houses around here, usually everyone gets together and we're good about shoveling each other's walks and stuff, if they notice it needs to be done " said MacArthur. "But I didn't realize it was part of our duty, I thought the city did it. Now that I know it will be taken care of."
     As plows drive around clearing our streets, it's typical for snow banks to build up around hydrants. The fire department keeps track of all the hydrants and clears them where they can, but community help will make a difference.