A Social App...for Fire Hydrants?

April 27, 2016

Citizens adopt fire hydrants to keep them accessible during severe weather.

Living in Southern California, I’m not used to thinking about snow. So forgive me if this is old news to some of you, but you can adopt a FIRE HYDRANT?!?

Typically, the risk of home fires increases when it’s snowing. Makes sense. People are inside, running heaters, fireplaces and possibly using wood stoves or candles (if the power’s out).

When a fire starts during heavy snow, it can be tough for fire fighters to find hydrants buried in the snow. Depending on how deeply the fire hydrant is buried, responders may spend several minutes looking and digging. Fires move quickly and a few extra minutes can mean disaster, both for the structure and anyone inside.

So how are cities making sure hydrants are accessible after heavy snowfall? Through a platform and mobile app, people are now adopting fire hydrants in their neighborhoods. This means that in bad weather, they pledge to dig around the hydrant and make sure it’s accessible in case of emergency. This has been going on in Boston for quite some time, and now lots of cities are implementing similar initiatives.

Do people follow through? Yes! If you don’t take care of your hydrant, you lose your privileges. It’s understandably a major source of pride, and people fight for the honor.

Though people have always been willing to participate and problem solve, this is a new development made possible by the ubiquity of the Internet and mobile access, along with social networks. As cities become more connected, I expect these programs will  become only more popular.

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