Heavy snow buries nearly 20 city fire hydrants

While most were out shoveling their driveways, a select group of volunteer fire fighters of the Hettinger Fire Department were out digging up a portion of the fire hydrants within city limits of Hettinger.

By COLE BENZ | Record Editor
cbenz@countrymedia.net

While most were out shoveling their driveways, a select group of volunteer fire fighters of the Hettinger Fire Department were out digging up a portion of the fire hydrants within city limits of Hettinger. Heavy snows buried the units, either by Mother Nature or simply moving the snow around to clear the roadways.

Kent Brackel, local business owner and previous fire chief, said that he started to think about the snow and buried hydrants, so he made a few calls. Steven Turner, the current chief, and second-in-command Darrin Seamands then spent some of Thursday, Dec. 29 surveying the city and discovered that 18 hydrants were buried. They took the map of hydrant locations and scouted the city to uncover the nearly 20 missing water sources.

“They surveyed the city [Thursday], they found 18 for sure,” Brackel told The Record late Friday morning. “We need to find those as soon as possible and get them dug out.”

Brackel said this is an unusual situation, given that in the last few years the snow accumulation has been relatively low.

“We haven’t had snow for three years,” he said. “And I can’t ever remember, you know, with this many being buried in one storm.”

After the Thursday surveying, a crew of firefighters went from hydrant to hydrant, digging them out of the deep, thick snow. Brackel said after a hydrant was located, they needed to pinpoint the exact spot so when they brought in a skid steer the hydrant wouldn’t get damaged. So they had to dig before the heavier machinery could finish the job.

Testing was not necessary after a hydrant was dug out, according to Brackel. The only reason they would need to test the equipment is if they had discovered damage.

Many of the buried hydrants were located in the northern part of the city, but some were scattered too, like by the Pepsi building.

To help the issue in the future, the department has ordered makers to attach to the hydrants that will stick up taller than the unit itself. It will make it easier to locate the hydrants in case of emergency or in the event the department needs to dig them out again.

“We’re not going to do them all…because not all of them get buried,” Brackel said. “But there’s certain areas, especially the north side of town, that get buried all the time.”

If you know of a hydrant that’s buried, you can contact the Hettinger Fire Department to make them aware of the location.