Firefighters remind public to keep fire hydrants clear of snow


SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -When the snow falls, firefighters say there is something you should do to help first responders in emergency situations when the seconds count.

Shawn Pichette with Spokane Valley Fire Department says in the winter, because of the snow, if people don’t clear the snow away from the fire hydrants, it poses an obstacle when they need to attack a fire. The snow can also weigh down tree limbs blocking them from view.

While their engines do carry 500 gallons of water, “if you have a fire like that, that can be gone in a matter of less than a minute depending on how quick you’re flowing, so we need those hydrants quickly and accessibility is huge for us,” Pichette says.

Pichette does say that they do have a map on their computers of where the more than 5,000 hydrants are in Spokane Valley, but in these moments seconds count, as we saw when they were battling the structure fire at Sunderland and 42nd on Saturday. As soon as the first engine arrived, they could see flames in the attached garage. In that case, the hydrants weren’t covered with snow.

“It was actually a matter of seconds that saved that house from burning down,” he says. “They (Engine 84) got water supply hooked up real quick and that really made a difference.”

Pichette says their recommendation is to clear 36 inches around and above the hydrant.

The cause of that fire on Sunderland and 42nd is still under investigation. 

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