After storms brought heavy snow to the Helena area last week, firefighters are asking residents to make sure the fire hydrants around their homes aren’t covered up.
Helena Fire Department Captain Neil Koehler said it isn’t uncommon for snowbanks to be higher than the top of a hydrant.
He recommends that while homeowners are shoveling their sidewalks, they should also clear the snow away from any hydrants adjacent to their property.
“When time is critical, we don’t need to be spending our time digging these fire hydrants out,” Koehler said. “The sooner we can get this done, the quicker we can get to putting the fire out, and that’s our goal.”
Koehler suggests clearing an area about 3 feet by 3 feet around a hydrant. That gives firefighters enough space to attach the hose and turn a handle to start the flow of water.
He also said making the hydrants more visible makes it less likely someone will park in front of them without realizing it.
Winter can be a busy time for the Helena Fire Department.
“This is the season when everybody’s turning on their heaters and starting up some wood stoves,” Koehler said. “We get a little bit more fire this time of year.”
In addition to checking the hydrants, Koehler asked homeowners to make sure snow isn’t covering the exterior vents for their heating system.
If vents are blocked, it can increase the risk of carbon monoxide coming back into the home.