Months of snow dances have turned Summit County into a skier’s and rider’s paradise, but heavy accumulation also comes with its share of safety concerns.
When the snow starts flying, safety hazards on Summit County’s roads and highways are top of mind with local residents, said Steve Lipsher, public information officer for Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue. But there’s another concern often overlooked by home and business owners until it’s too late — access to fire hydrants.
“It’s not something people think about until they need it, and by then they really need it,” Lipsher said. “Right now we’re seeing hydrants all over the place completely buried by snow.”
Although clearing out fire hydrants is part of the job for local firefighters — when time permits — it is impossible for local firefighters to get to every one of the hundreds of fire hydrants in Summit County, Lipsher said. Copper Mountain Fire, Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue and Red, White & Blue need the community’s help and are asking local residents to adopt a fire hydrant by shoveling away snow to ensure firefighter access in case of an emergency.
“In case of a fire, when minutes can mean the difference in saving a structure — or a life — being able to get to water is critical,” said Lake Dillon chief Dave Parmley. “Digging out a hydrant during an emergency takes valuable time that we might not have.”
Making fire hydrants accessible is just as important as digging them out, Lipsher added. Some fire hydrants are located farther from the curb than others. When the snow is high, firefighters are forced to wade, sometimes waist deep, though a snowdrift in order to connect the hose.
“The abundant snow is one of the reasons many of us have chosen to live here,” said Copper Mountain fire chief Dan Moroz. “But it definitely can pose an obstacle to firefighters getting to a hydrant quickly. Helping us in keeping hydrants clear helps everybody in the event of a fire.”
Jay Nelson, the deputy chief of the Red, White & Blue department, said residents should consider the hydrant closest to their home as a lifeline, requiring the simple maintenance of digging away snow left by natural accumulation and snowplows.
“Obviously, we’re asking for the benevolence of our residents to take a few minutes after shoveling their deck or their driveway to clear snow away from a fire hydrant,” Lipsher said. “We look at this as a maintenance issue and one we can all address as a community together.”