Albert Lea’s hydrant hunters

Published 4:50 pm Saturday, January 2, 2010

Looking for a water hydrant nearly hidden by piled up snow or even completely out of sight under a snowbank created by city snowplows or people clearing off their sidewalks can be a real challenge for Albert Lea’s firefighters.

At a time when every minute really counts in fighting a fire, hunting for the nearest hydrant and maybe even digging out an access to hook up the hoses could create a deadly delay.

As the result of the recent snowstorms, Albert Lea’s system of curbside hydrants represent varying degrees of access from fully exposed to completely hidden.

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“We really appreciate people clearing snow away from them. This protects them and the neighbors (in case of a fire situation),” said Albert Lea Fire Chief Paul Stieler.

He commented that certain corners in the city present problems based on snow removal from the streets that in turn cover the hydrants.

“We do work with the street department when they get caught up to dig out those hydrants that are out of sight. They use a backhoe and we (the firefighters) finish digging them out,” he added.

Albert Lea’s system of hydrants are located or based at most intersections and are spaced approximately 500 feet apart. Stieler added that there are more than a thousand hydrants in the city’s system.

“We really encourage people to dig out the hydrants. It’s a great help to us and to all their neighbors,” the city fire chief said.