While crews continue to clean up streets after the late December snow dump, many hydrants around the city remain buried, a problem that could lead to a fire hazard if crews are unable to reach them in an emergency.
But the West Fargo Fire Department is rolling out tools to gather help from the community when a redesigned website and Adopt A Hydrant program application launches Friday.
The city has about 2,000 fire hydrants. There is no city ordinance that requires residents with a hydrant near their property to shovel out the hydrants, and while crews attempt to keep as many clear as possible, the fire department needs the community's help, Fire Chief Dan Fuller said.
Online registration will allow residents to find a hydrant in need of shoveling and sign up to care for it.
City spokeswoman Melissa Richard said the new West Fargo Fire Department site will launch at www.westfargofire.org on Friday, Jan. 17. The redesigned site will have updated content and images from the Fire Department's official transition into becoming a city department as of Jan. 1.
The addition of the Adopt a Hydrant site will be mobile responsive, meaning it has been programmed to work well on a phone through the browser, Richard said.
Last year, the Fire Department did a big push on social media to encourage people to maintain a hydrant, but participation couldn't be tracked.
"We’ll be able to see stats in real time about the level adopted after it’s launched and hope to engage with the community on social media to continue to encourage adoption," Richard said.
Fire Marshal Dan Sprecher said a structure can be fully engulfed in fire in less than 15 minutes and even minimal smoke damage could cause an entire structure to be demolished. If a fire crew has to clear a hydrant once it arrives on scene, this can delay the department’s response significantly.
Volunteers are asked to clear a 3-foot radius around the hydrant and access is available from the road.
The Fire Department estimates it can take about 20 minutes to clear the hydrant with a shovel or brush after the average snowfall.
The new website will also feature a sign-up up for alerts from the West Fargo Fire Department on emergencies, events or community information. Fuller will also continue to publish the department's strategic plan on its own page devoted to the long-term guidance, goals and timelines for changes in the department.
Users can access the Adopt a Hydrant website via www.westfargofire.gov or directly at https://map.westfargond.gov/AdoptAHydrant/.
Visitors can register with their email address and name. Registered users then select a hydrant to adopt. After cleaning the hydrant of snow, users will be able to mark the hydrant as clear.