Firefighters work around, through frigid conditions

Another sure sign that this past winter has had severe, lasting, negative impacts emerged recently as it was reported that fire hydrants are frozen in some local communities.

Officials from Ishpeming and Negaunee estimate at least 50 percent of their fire hydrants are probably frozen.

That is hardly surprising, seeing that the winter of 2013-14 included some of the most long-lasting, frigid weather that has hit the region in many years.

While the frozen hydrants certainly are not a welcomed development, they are handled differently than some other maladies of a harsh winter – namely frozen water pipes.

When water mains and service lines are frozen solid, residences and businesses can be without water for days while crews scramble to restore service.

These lines must be fixed, and the sooner the better.

Hydrants that supply water to fire departments when battling blazes are also vital to the safety and welfare of a community’s homes and business.

However, fire officials are prepared to work around the problem and provide the same high level of fire response and suppression. This is done by being prepared with tanker trucks that carry water to the fire, which are supplied by both the home department as well as by neighboring departments that work together through mutual aid agreements.

Firefighters traditionally are a fraternal order that know no boundaries or jurisdictional lines – they work together to provide the best possible fire protection for the entire area.

Once the ground does thaw this spring, there will undoubtedly be many fire hydrants that need repairs from the freeze-ups – as well as water lines.

These expenses will just be piled on to all the other costly efforts that local governments have put forth to contend with the vicious effects of the winter of 2013-14 and its aftermath.

Whether state or federal governments determine the impact of the winter was severe enough to warrant some assistance to local units of government remains to be determined.

One thing that is for sure, though, is that regardless of how the weather impacts fire hydrants, local fire departments will continue to provide top-notch protection to their communities.