By Cheryl Conway
Leaves’ falling signals that snow may be soon blanketing local streets and fire hydrants, but thanks to some local volunteers new markers will be in place to identify those water sources in emergency situations.
Volunteer firefighters of the Brookside Engine Company in Mendham Township are seeking donations to offset the costs to purchase hydrant markers throughout the township. There are currently 246 hydrants located throughout the township.
“None have markers,” says Mendham Township Fire Chief Peter Dwyer, life-long Mendham resident. “When you plow snow, the hydrant gets buried in the snow. Very few have the yellow H to identify it; it’s a guessing game. Is it two feet back, is it ten feet back?”
Some towns, such as Mt. Olive Township, have an ordinance in place that requires residents to dig out their hydrants. In Mendham Twp., there is no such ordinance, says Dwyer. “I can’t get all the hydrants cleared out. As long as we can find them, we can get to them. If we can’t find it, it’s more of a delay.”
The other issue is that 45 percent of the township is protected by fire hydrants, says Dwyer. “Most towns, it’s a hydrant every 500 feet, our case there is no set distance but it can be 3,000 feet or more.”
The other 55 percent of the town is without hydrants. With that the case, firefighters need to know where those hydrants are so they can tap into the water source timely during emergency situations, he explains.
After some research, Dwyer found some affordable hydrant markers. “Price is right, material is right.” Dwyer calculated that the cost to place markers on all the hydrants totals $4,000.
So far about $3,500 has been raised, leaving the fire department $550 shy in completing its order as of October. The goal is to allocate the funds donated to replenish the department’s operating budget, he says, to fund the cost of the hydrant markers. The operating budget is used to offset the costs for maintenance and equipment utilized by the local fire department, explains Dwyer, a volunteer member of the fire department since joining in 2003 when he was 16 years old.
Currently the Brookside Engine Co. is down an engine since 2015, he adds. It is using an engine on loan from Parsippany.
“This engine was our water supply engine, it carries a 35 foot ladder, 1,000 gallons of water, a 2,000 gallon per minute pump and 2,800 feet of five inch hose,” Dwyer explains. “This engine was the essential piece of equipment for us at fires since 1990 providing water to the scene for many different events.”
Mendham Borough has been assisting as well.
“We are very grateful for Mendham Borough, who has been assisting us with their equipment and staffing,” he says.
Each hydrant marker is four feet long and cost $20. They are made out of fiberglass, high-quality construction with stainless steel springs.
“Markers get hydrants noticed, in rain, fog, snow, behind parking violators, debris, in fields, or pitch black roads markers do the job year round,” as stated on the fire department’s website order form.
Hydrant Markers will be automatically sent to the firehouse left for the
Brookside Engine Company firemen to install. The goal is to have them up before this winter, says Dwyer.
“The order is ready to go, we just need to pay for them,” adds Dwyer. “At the end of the day, I’m not paid, “but it’s my job to see residents are protected.
We’re trying to catch up with things that should’ve been done a while ago.”
To donate toward the fire hydrant markers, go to www.bec1.org; or send checks payable to the Brookside Engine Co., to P.O. Box 196, Brookside, N.J., 07926.