FROSTBURG — Fire hydrants buried in snow are a source of high stress for Frostburg Fire Department Chief Matt McMorran. And with the amount of snow the city has had this winter, it’s safe to say sleep is nil.
“When we receive any significant amount of snow, with nearly 500 hydrants in our first due area of responsibility, it’s a struggle to keep them cleared,” said McMorran. “If a hydrant is buried upon our arrival, crews must take time to shovel out a path to and around the hydrant, to connect supply lines. If there is a fire, that effort takes away from firefighting and possible life saving efforts.”
The sheer number of hydrants in the city limits is overwhelming for the fire department and city employees to handle alone. It leaves the fire department to put out requests on social media and to ask local businesses and residents for help.
“A couple of days ago,” McMorran said after a recent snowstorm, “I made flyers up and I went up and down Main Street, especially if there was a business and I said ‘look, man, we need help.’”
And some fragments of the community have responded. Last week, Rob Thompson, Black Bear property manager, asked his tenants to help out. Several members of the Frostburg State University fraternity Phi Mu Delta answered the call, borrowing some shovels and clearing over 30 hydrants on Center, Maple, Water, Wood, and Spring streets and on College Ave.
“I am extremely impressed with these young men for assisting the department and the citizens of Frostburg and can’t thank them enough,” said McMorran, who went out to greet the fraternity brothers. “These efforts help protect both locals and students living in and around the Frostburg State University campus.”
In years past, the fire department received 100 shovels from Fifty Shades of Frostburg to support an adopt-a-hydrant program. In theory, the shovels were for people who signed up to adopt a hydrant to shovel when snow came through.
There are still 85 shovels the fire department is ready and rearing to give out.
Those interested in adopting a hydrant can contact the fire department at firstname.lastname@example.org.