Firefighters are asking residents to help keep fire hydrants clear of snow.
With a surge in snowfall this month, some hydrants have been buried, especially after snowplows push snow off streets, said Hal Doughty, chief of the Durango Fire Protection District.
“It’s really important to us that we do have access to the fire hydrants,” Doughty said.
The 325-square-mile district has about 2,500 hydrants, including an estimated 1,500 in the city of Durango.
He asked residents to “adopt” a fire hydrant in their neighborhood and keep a 5-foot to 6-foot area clear in all directions around the hydrant. That helps firefighters locate the spigots at night and gives them room to attach hoses.
Doughty encouraged residents to look for a fire hydrant when they leave the house. If they can’t find one, it’s possible that it’s buried under snow, and if that’s the case, it’s likely firefighters won’t be able to find it either.
“There are some areas where people have done this for years and years, and they’re just kind of used to it,” he said. “Some of the newer folks in our community who haven’t been here for a big snow year may not realize that is a concern.”
Members of Durango Boy Scouts Troop 501 plan to meet at noon Sunday to help shovel around fire hydrants.
The Fire Department is even offering coffee gift cards to residents who shovel out a hydrant and post a picture of it to Twitter using the hashtag: #DurangoSnowHydrant.
The department also reminds residents to be mindful of their health while shoveling snow.
Some residents have suffered heart attacks while shoveling snow, including as recently as Wednesday, Doughty said.
“What I would recommend is pace yourself, use good judgment about whether or not you should be out there shoveling snow,” he said.
Several companies offer contractual or one-time snow-shoveling services, he said. There are also service groups willing to do shoveling for residents who need the help.