In honor of Fire Prevention Week, October 7-13, 2012, Pennsylvania American Water, the commonwealth’s largest water utility, is reminding consumers about the importance of water infrastructure for fire protection and providing tips for helping to maintain hydrants. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, fire-related deaths have dropped significantly, from about 12,000 in 1974 to 3,245 in 2006, and the number continues to decrease. Water infrastructure plays a critical role. Greater nationwide availability of highly pressurized hydrants allows emergency workers to extinguish blazes with increasing speed and effectiveness. “Between 2005 and 2011, Pennsylvania American Water invested approximately $1.2 billion for water infrastructure improvements that benefit our customers, including needed upgrades to hydrants, booster stations and other systems that are critical to fire protection,” said Steve Tambini, Pennsylvania American Water’s vice president of operations. “Making capital investments to maintain our water systems helps firefighters to continue protecting the health and safety of our communities.” Tambini noted that consumers play an important role in this effort, as a portion of their water bills goes toward these critical investments to keep their community’s infrastructure strong. Customers can also play a role in helping to keep fire hydrants dependable and in good working order through the following tips:
- Keep fire hydrants clear of debris. Although they’re usually located curbside, avoid parking trash bags and recycling buckets too close.
- Give hydrants breathing room. Don’t plant flowers or shrubs next them.
- Mow around fire hydrants. If weeds or grass are enveloping them, make sure to trim around them during yard work.
- Shovel the snow and ice around hydrants. A municipal employee might be along to do that at some point, but why wait until it’s too late?
- If a fire hydrant appears damaged, is overflowing or the snow flag is missing, don’t assume the authorities know about it. Report the situation, including the hydrant’s location, to the local fire department immediately.
- For your safety and that of others, never park in front of or within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, even just for a few minutes.