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Residents wondering: Where’s my hydrant?

Nearly one week after the recent snowstorm, you could barely tell that under the mound of dirty snow on the Dorchester sidewalk stood a fire hydrant.

Nearly one week after the recent snowstorm, you could barely tell that under the mound of dirty snow on the Dorchester sidewalk stood a fire hydrant.

A shoveler apparently cleared snow from the sidewalk or street and piled it around the hydrant, slowing the melting process.

It’s a problem that fire officials said could turn into an emergency or even worse.

“You don’t want that at three in the morning when the fire trucks are racing down the street and see flames coming out of the house,” said Steve MacDonald, a fire department spokesman.
“The first couple of minutes could be the difference between life and death. … When you have to take even a minute for a firefighter to find the hydrant and shovel it out, it’s wasting time.”

Most of the city hydrants get cleared, MacDonald said, with the help of the public. However, firefighters do a lot of the work as well, and spend time between calls going around and shoveling, MacDonald said.

While clearing the sidewalk in front of a home or business is the responsibility of the property owner who faces a fine if the walkway is impassible, it seems there is no one who is held responsible for failing to clear the hydrants.

The city’s “Know Snow” website has guidelines for snow removal. “Shovel out your fire hydrant” is listed above “be careful not to overexert yourself.”

“We just ask the public for help,” MacDonald said. “We had one big storm, but we still have the full winter ahead.”

 
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