Snow-Buried Hydrants Cause Extra Issues for Firefighters
In recent house fire, hydrant needed dug out
ANCHORAGE - A house fire in East Anchorage on Sunday had neighbors worried.
They weren’t worried for the lives of people inside – the house was unoccupied.
Neighbors were worried because of the amount of time it took firefighters to access the fire hydrant on the corner of street.
“They did have a problem I think with the fire hydrants being snowed in… they had to dig out the hydrant before they could hook up the hoses,” said Paul Seivel, who lives next door to the house on Campbell Airstrip Road that went up in flames on Sunday.
There are more than 7,000 fire hydrants that Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility is responsible for.
In winter the big problems AWUU workers face are with hydrants freezing and getting covered in snow.
This winter, the snow has left the AWWU scrambling to keep up.
"We understand some of our fire hydrants have been covered up. We have doubled our crews for the most part to try and get out and dig them out and do the best we can to keep them free and clear for the fire department," said AWWU General Manager Craig Woolard.
Captain Sean Fredenhagen from Spenard Fire Station No. 5 says any time firefighters need to shovel out buried hydrants means less time to attack the fire as aggressively as possible.
"When we find the primary hydrant that we want to use, one of the first pieces of equipment that we grab is the shovel and dig it out if we need to,” said Fredenhagen.
AWWU General Manager Craig Woolard says his workers are out doing the best they can.
"We typically have about 25 percent of our systems maintenance crew this year working on nothing but digging out fire hydrants, so we are putting as many people on it as we possibly can."
Firefighters and the AWWU say if people are able to clear hydrants themselves, they are welcome to do so.
"That is our responsibility but we are very thankful for any homeowner who wants to take the initiative," said Woolard.
If you notice a hydrant that isn't clear in your neighborhood call Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility on 550-5914 or 564-2700.