Where’s The Hydrant

   As an officer, when I approach a structure fire there are a few things I look for upon arrival. The first is the extent of the fire. The second is the type of structure. The third is to determine if there are any rescue efforts that need to take place. I determine quickly if the resources we have on the way will be sufficient to deal with the situation. This is generally done extremely quickly. 

   The next and perhaps one of the most important things in all working fires is locating my water supply. In a rural setting this will be a tanker shuttle. In town, this will be a hydrant. I have been given a map of our city that shows the location and flow of all of the hydrants. This is extremely valuable. This winter has created a great challenge. Many of our hydrants have become covered in snow. We have had some very large snow events. Many of our residents have been helpful in keeping them clear. Many of our residents have not. I think people generally see this as “the cities” responsibility. Unfortunately, we often find ourselves having to dig for a hydrant in emergency situations. This takes precious time to establish sustained water flow to the fire attack crew creating what could potentially be a dangerous situation. 

   A solution to this problem has been taking a night to have our members clear hydrants. We broke the city into sections. We then had each truck take a crew and clear all the hydrants in the community as a drill. Two officers stayed at the station by our city map showing all hydrants. Each crew then reported the condition of all hydrants as they drove past them. If they were not clear, they dug them out. This gave an opportunity for the crews to take turns utilizing radio communication. We did have a backhoe and a few skid loaders to assist with those that were extremely covered. We informed the emergency dispatcher they may receive calls and operated with emergency lights on. 

   This created interest from many citizens. While parked, one of our members would visit with the people asking what was going on and explain to them the importance of keeping the hydrants clear. We used social media, the radio, city mailings with bills, and the local newspaper to express the importance of people assisting us in this effort. 

Training Objectives

Upon completion, the department should be able to…

   • Identify hydrants and flows on a city map.

   • Utilize standard radio procedure to call in a location and condition found.

   • Communicate with the public to stress the importance of keeping hydrants clear.

   • Recognize the importance of sustained water supply for fire attack. 

   Scott Meinecke is a member of the Sheldon Volunteer Fire Department, Director of Safety for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, and field staff for the Fire Service Training Bureau. He can be contacted by email at smeinecke@iowarec.org



Blaze Publications, Inc.

Jeff Gargano - Editor
P.O. Box 122
Humboldt, IA 50548

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