Last weekend, our region received its first "real" snowfall of the season. A solid 17" of snow fell at my house. I can't complain as a few days in the 50s this week has melted most of it!
Snow accumulation can quickly obstruct fire hydrants and block access from fire department vehicles. We all think about shoveling our driveways and front steps, and making sure there is a clear means of escape during and after a snowstorm is very important, too! However, we can't neglect our responsibility to ensure the fire department has the necessary access to water supply should they need to respond to a fire. Yes, fires happen in the snow, too.
NFPA 1, Fire Code, requires the following clearance around fire hydrants:
18.5.7 Clear Space Around Hydrants.
18.104.22.168 A 36 in. (914 mm) clear space shall be maintained around the circumference of fire hydrants except as otherwise required or approved.
22.214.171.124 A clear space of not less than 60 in. (1524 mm) shall be provided in front of each hydrant connection having a diameter greater than 21⁄2 in. (64 mm).
Our property has a fire hydrant by the street so we are lucky enough to add another item on the snow removal "to-do" list. I was proud to see that all other hydrants in our neighborhood were also cleared during and after the storm. This hydrant should have at least a 36" clearance around the circumference of the hydrant, unless another dimension is approved by the local AHJ.
The requirement of 126.96.36.199 is new to the 2015 edition of the Code. It is intended to ensure fire department pumper apparatus have the ability to park adjacent to a fire hydrant and have adequate room to connect a large-diameter hose from the hydrant’s steamer outlet to the pump inlet. Parked vehicles and other obstructions within 60 in. (1524 mm) of the front of the hydrant pose an undue hindrance to fire suppression operations.
Snow certainly isn't the only potential obstruction to fire hydrant access. A quick google image search results in the many issues one may find with blocked hydrant access: parked cars, overgrown landscaping, utilities, service vehicles, construction work, mobile cooking vehicles. to name a few. For those of you in areas where snow isn't a concern, other potential issues may be just as prevalent!
We all should take responsibility for clearing hydrants in the snow. I feel safer knowing that if a fire occurred in my home there is immediate and efficient access to a water supply for fire fighter operations.
What type of fire hydrant obstructions have you seen? Log in to comment and share your stories or photos!
Thanks for reading, Happy Friday!
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