If you don' know what a hydrant marking stick is, it's a reflective piece of metal that stands tall up above a fire hydrant, marking its location to make it easier for firefighters to locate the hydrant in the event of an emergency, and especially if that emergency happens before the hydrants can be shoveled out. Unfortunately, more and more towns have done away with these reflective strips or they've been damaged and never replaced.

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Since fewer hydrants have marking sticks, it's so important that you and I make sure that whenever there's a snowfall of any amount, we make sure that the fire hydrants in our neighborhoods are cleared of snow.

A lot of people don't think about clearing snow from around the fire hydrants in their neighborhood, especially when they're feeling overwhelmed with the task of trying to shovel out buried vehicles or in a rush to get on the road, but every second is precious when it comes to fighting a fire. By taking a couple of minutes to clear out the snow around your fire hydrant, it could mean the difference between life and death.

Traci Taylor

According to my friend, Jeffrey Wentworth, retired fire chief and Emergency Management Coordinator, sometimes the snow is so deep that it is virtually impossible for fire crews to find a hydrant, especially in the dark of night. Sometimes when a road has been plowed the snow gets pushed up against where the hydrants sit and they're not easily visible. Additionally, if the hydrant is covered in ice, even more, valuable time is lost when there is a fire and firefighters have to focus their efforts on uncovering a fire hydrant.

The bottom line is this- by taking a couple of minutes to clear the snow on and around your fire hydrant, you’re not only helping our local fire departments, but you’re helping to prevent wasting precious time that could mean the difference between life and death.

Traci Taylor

One more thing to note is that according to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, it is illegal to park "Within 15 feet (5 m) of a fire hydrant, unless a licensed driver remains in the vehicle to move it in an emergency."

[via New York State Department of Motor Vehicles]