Unshoveled hydrant leads to fire loss

A fire hydrant remains buried on School Street Monday. (Photo by The Westfield News/Frederick Gore)

SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) Although Southwick firefighters were able to contain a garage fire last week, they may have been able to save more of the structure if a nearby hydrant was shoveled out.

Fire Chief Richard Anderson said the fire on College Highway by the Granby, Conn. line engulfed and totaled the garage and mudroom that connected the garage to the home. “The only reason it didn’t get in the house is two firefighters worked in between the fire and house to contain it,” Anderson sad.

The fire was started by accident when a hanging light fell into gasoline and ignited. Anderson said when they arrived on scene, the hydrant to the north was not working and they couldn’t find the hydrant to the south. “It was buried, and we knew where it was but we still couldn’t get to it,” he said.

Instead, firefighters switched to their tanker as quickly as possible to keep the flames from reaching the house. Anderson said this is a prime example of why it is so important to shovel hydrants. “I only have two people on staff during the day and they are the ambulance crew so I can’t have them out shoveling hydrants in case we get an ambulance call,” Anderson said.

Property owners are required to keep clear access to hydrants at all times, but many do not.

Anderson said he spoke to Board of selectmen Chairman Russell Fox, who was also concerned about the continuing problem. We are looking into an attachment to the hydrant that can be seen in snow,” Anderson said. The attachment often has a flag at the top or is reflective and is a three-foot “hydrant antenna” that can be seen easily in the snow. Anderson hopes the attachment will help homeowners see the hydrants and shovel them to help prevent future loss from fires.

Media Credit: The Westfield News

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