Friday, March 7, 2014

Woodstock fire hydrants and snow - your job or whose?

During last night's serious and fatal fire in Woodstock at 509 East Kimball Street, firefighters apparently found fire hydrants buried under snow and ice (according to Chicago's Channel 2 TV news) and were delayed in firefighting efforts while they dug out the hydrant(s).

A reader of The Woodstock Advocate inquired this morning just whose job it is to keep fire hydrants clear.

This is a case where everybody wants to point fingers at other people. The responsibility belongs somewhere. Ultimately, it is the property owner who suffers, but could the responsibility belong elsewhere? If so, where?

1. The property owner?
2. The occupant of the property, if not the owner?
3. Woodstock Fire/Rescue District (WFRD)?
4. The City of Woodstock?

Where is the hydrant located? Is it on your property? Probably not. If you live in Woodstock (or in any other municipality), your property (i.e., your deeded piece of real estate) may end at the sidewalk. The sidewalk and the parkway (the space between the sidewalk and the street) may not be within the property that you own.

I say "may not". Check your deed and your survey.

If the sidewalk is not on your property, then it must belong to the city. If the parkway is not on your property, it belongs to the city. If the parkway belongs to the city and the hydrant is on the parkway, then the hydrant belongs to the city.

Who get billed for water that comes out of the hydrant? Has anyone asked that question? Ff WFRD rolls up to put out a fire at your house, do you get billed for the water? Do they? Does the city bear the cost of that water?

While you are fighting with the city and WFRD over who is going to dig out your the hydrant in front of your house, it's probably a good idea for you to do it. There will be less damage to your house, if WFRD can hook up promptly. You think they don't know that?

While firefighters are waiting for the alarm to ring, could they be working out with shovels?


John Lovaas said...

From the city's own website:

"e. With over 1,400 fire hydrants on the City’s water system, it is impossible for the Public Works Department and/or Fire Department to clear the snow from every hydrant. If every resident, however, cleared a 2-3’ radius around the fire hydrant in front of each home making the hydrant visible, firemen can concentrate on their job, and you will be doing a great service to yourself, your neighbors, and your community."

Want your hydrant clear? Shovel it out. Want your sidewalk clear? Shovel it out. The city is not your babysitter.

As to your foolish question about hydrant water use- have you ever owned a home? Have you ever paid a water bill? Have you ever looked at a water meter?

The answer to these questions is clearly NO- otherwise you would be keenly aware that water meters measure water meters are located inside the home.

Hydrants? Far, far way from the water meter.

Maverick50 said...

It is NOT, I repeat NOT a home owners job to shovel snow for the city. That's what the HIGH taxes are for. have you ever visited a Fire station? What are they doing if they are not fighting fires? Same with the city crews. What are they doing besides stealing salt and other city items? With over 1,400 fire hydrants on the City’s water system, it is NOT impossible for the City to clear around them. They just have to do it.

Big Daddy said...

I have always shoveled the snow away from the fire hydrant in front of my house. Been doing it for years. It's the least I can do to ensure the safety of my family and my neighbors. Only takes a few minutes. Firemen should be fighting fires not shoveling snow.