JP Firefighters Are Having to Dig Out Hydrants

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Earlier this month, blocked and snowed-in hydrants delayed firefighters responding to what turned out to be a fatal fire in Revere. On Sunday, residents spotted firefighters from Jamaica Plain digging out hydrants — a job safety officials say should be done by residents and businesses.

A fire truck carries between 500 and 750 gallons of water, said Steve MacDonald, spokesperson for the Boston Fire Department. That could last up to two minutes. After that, firefighters need to have quick access to hydrants.

"Seconds and minutes count when you first arrive at a fire," MacDonald said. The couple of extra minutes it might take to dig out a hydrant could literally be a matter of life and death.

Since the blizzard, every Fire Department shift has detailed firefighters to dig out hydrants, he said. But the department really relies on residents and businesses to clear the city's 13,000-plus fire plugs.

MacDonald said whether you're shoveling a sidewalk at your home or you're directing a contractor to shovel the sidewalk outside your business, make sure the extra time gets taken to clear the hydrants. The plug should be free of snow all around and clear to the street, since that's the "business end" from which the hoses are plugged in.

The city's "Adopt a Hydrant" program even allows you to name any plug you, your family or business takes responsibility for shoveling out. As you can see from this screen grab, hundreds of hydrants are available for adoption in JP. Names bestowed on JP plugs include Paul Revere, Milo and Rufus Hydrant.

Screen grab of fire hydrants adopted (green) and available for adoption on

Screen grab of fire hydrants adopted (green) and available for adoption on