MFD’s Hydrant Heroes rise to the challenge
Last week, the Merrill Fire Department reached out for community support in an effort to relieve numerous fire hydrants throughout the city, of heavy snow cover. In the event of a structure fire, firefighters can save precious minutes utilizing the hydrants for immediate fire fighting operations, rather than spending that time clearing away snow and ice. The hydrants can also provide desperately needed water for active fire fighting operations in a rural area not serviced by the hydrant system.
According to a press release from the department Monday afternoon; the community answered the call, as over 50 volunteers turned out to help.
Many of the hydrants were buried by feet of snow. In all, nearly 100 hydrants were uncovered. Merrill fire personnel had identified hydrants utilizing maps and metal detectors, leading up to the weekend shoveling event.
Despite bitter cold temperatures Saturday and Sunday, volunteers showed up with shovels and winter attire, and were sent out with fire personnel in 4-6 person teams. All volunteers were given a safety vest to wear while out shoveling the hydrants. Merrill Fire personnel took measures to assure safety for all volunteers, including placement of cones and activating emergency lights on fire apparatus.
According to Merrill Fire Department Battalion Chief Steve Hintze, volunteer groups included Merrill Youth Hockey (Pee Wee’s), Scout Troop 513, numerous concerned citizens and a family of six who didn’t even live in Merrill. Department personnel also noticed numerous individuals within the community who were out on their own over the weekend, clearing hydrants as well.
“It was great to see, but not surprising,” Hintze said. “Work will continue in an effort to locate more hydrants in the coming days, as not all hydrants have been located. We feel the number and grid pattern established will give us a fighting chance to utilize a hydrant should the need arise. If you know of a hydrant that is still buried, please clean it out or to call the fire station with it’s location,” Hintze adds.
The Merrill Fire Department is very thankful for all the volunteers who both came to the station and helped; as well as the individuals who took it upon themselves to rescue a hydrant that needed help.