Penticton Fire Rescue doesn’t usually need to ask homeowners to dig out hydrants in front of their properties, but this season’s snow has been a little unusual.
While firefighters were extraordinarily busy with car crashes in the past couple of weeks, a big dump of snow in the final days of 2017 has also buried some of the city’s hydrants in snow, according to deputy fire chief Chris Forster.
“What our standard procedure is, the closest hall goes right to the house, or the building, whatever, the second fire truck comes in and it’ll stage at the closest fire hydrant in case they do need to lay the line and hook up to the hydrant,” Forster said.
“The other day we actually had a problem where we went and of course the second-in rig got on scene, and fortunately it was nothing, but in the meantime they were out there with their shovels in the back, using them like poles and just poking in the snow.
“They knew approximately where it was, according to the map, you know, it was the second or third house in, and so they were poking and poking and poking until they could hit something, and yeah. That’s kind of our biggest issue right now.”
Forster asked residents who have fire hydrants in front of their property to dig the hydrants out so if a fire truck is called to that block they don’t have to scramble to get access to the hydrant if a routine call turns into an emergency.
The hydrant in front of a person’s property is not legally that person’s responsibility, and a ticket can’t be issued for not maintaining access to the hydrant, but Forster said he hopes the fire department will get some support from the community on this.
“The city themselves, the public works department, just doesn’t have the capability to come around and try to open access every hydrant. We have to, given we’re on scene, but it may delay things,” he said.
“Realistically, the city tries to maintain the hydrants as much as possible, and they do go around and try to do as many as they can, but obviously people are out there shoveling the snow. If they could just make the effort to clear around their hydrant, then it will basically make it a lot easier and ensure no delay in getting fire suppressant to their building.
Forster said this wasn’t a common issue facing the fire department.
“You know Penticton, we get a little bit of snow for a couple days, and then it warms up and about zero for a couple days, so most of it melts off,” he said.
“Nine years out of 10, it doesn’t even go past a foot, so we can always see the hydrants, but this year … last week, that dump ended up being more snow than a (normal) year in those couple days.”
The City of Penticton also issued a news release Friday afternoon asking residents to make sure their properties and the sidewalks adjacent to them are clear of ice and snow.
“The Good Neighbour Bylaw requires all sidewalks adjoining private properties to be cleared of snow and ice before 11 a.m. following a weather event,” the news release said.
The city does have the power to fine property owners under the Good Neighbour Bylaw.
“In the majority of cases, after a removal notice is received, the snow and ice is attended to,” bylaw supervisor Tina Siebert said in a news release. “However, there are some cases where, despite the warning, action is not taken and the sidewalk remains un-passable. When that occurs, a ticket is issued.”
Residents can report problematic sidewalks to the city’s bylaw department within 24 hours of a snow event by phone at 250-490-2440 or email at email@example.com.