(TRENTON, N.J.) – A snow covered hydrant puts people’s lives at risk. With this weekend’s impending storm underscoring the needs of firefighters, both volunteer and paid, Assemblyman John F. McKeon announced on Thursday that he will re-introduce legislation addressing the concerns of firefighters in locating and identifying fire hydrants during an emergency.
The bill would require municipalities to adopt an ordinance or resolution, as applicable, requiring the owner of any real property abutting a fire hydrant to maintain a minimum of five feet in diameter for clearance of snow and other debris around each fire hydrant on the owner’s property.
“Our firefighters put their lives on the line for all of us on a daily basis. However, they are often delayed or frustrated attempting to find and connect to a snow covered fire hydrant. With the upcoming forecast of possible blizzard conditions and snow accumulations of up to a foot and a half, this issue is front and center and I hope residents will be vigilant about keeping hydrants clear,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris).
The bill would also require a metal flag be placed on each hydrant to allow for easier identification from any distance as a firefighter approaches on foot or in a truck. This is especially important when there large accumulations of snow or other debris in the area of the hydrant.
Additionally, the bill necessitates utility providers to test the rated flow capacity of each hydrant under its ownership or control in accordance with National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) standards. Upon determining the capacity of each hydrant, a utility would then color code each hydrant based on its flow capacity according a Statewide, uniform color-coding standard. Currently, no uniformed, Statewide standard exists for the marking or clearing of fire hydrants.
“As time is of the essence when there is a fire, buried hydrants can cause dangerous delays for firefighter and all those involved. By keeping a hydrant clear from snow, you stand side-by-side with your local firefighter in protecting your neighbors and your family,” said Thomas Byrne, Jr., Fire Chief for the Township of Union.
“If we can make the work of firefighters a little easier and safer, we should. This commonsense measure will make sure that New Jersey’s bravest will have the ability to make more effective decisions when every second matters,” McKeon said.
The bill will be re-introduced Wednesday, January 27, 2016 at the General Assembly’s next quorum.