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County fire officials urge residents to clear off fire hydrants

Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013 11:12 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 8, 2013 12:18 a.m. CDT

SYCAMORE – Sycamore Fire Department Assistant Chief Art Zern cannot shovel out all of the city's 1,400 fire hydrants by himself.

Zern and other local fire officials are asking residents to clear snow from fire hydrants so they are easily accessible in case of emergencies. Firefighters would lose several minutes if they responded to a house fire and had to clear out a hydrant before connecting the hose, Zern said. With 180 to 250 gallons of water used every minute to fight a fire, Zern said each second counts.

"I think, especially when you have a heavy snow, it becomes a concern," Zern said. "Driveways and sidewalks become the number one concern and understandably so. I just think people don't give [fire hydrants] much thought."

The best way to clear a hydrant, Zern said, is to start in the street and shovel out about a 2-foot path toward the hydrant. Then, residents should clear out a 2- to 3-foot diameter area around the hydrant, Zern said.

DeKalb officials also are urging residents to clear off any hydrants they notice buried under snow. DeKalb Fire Department Deputy Chief Greg Hoyle said firefighters have been out the past two days clearing some, but residents' help would be needed to get all the hydrants cleared.

He said residents who are unable to shovel out the snow should call the fire department at 815-748-8460 and someone will come out and clear the hydrant.

"We've been making an effort the last two days to dig out hydrants and if people notice any they can contact us," Hoyle said. "It's vital."

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