NH town FD rewards kids for clearing snow from fire hydrants
For doing their part to help the town, the "Hydrant Heroes" get a ride to school in a fire truck
Portsmouth Herald, N.H.
NEWMARKET, N.H. — Erika Bogacz said her 7-year-old son Michael is quite the talker. That is until he was honored with a ride to school in a fire truck.
"He was overwhelmed and overjoyed," Bogacz said of her son. "After school he came home and said there were so many things he wanted to ask but he didn't know how. It's the first time in his life that he's been speechless."
Michael received the ride to school after being recognized for helping the Newmarket Fire and Rescue Department by shoveling out a fire hydrant near his condo complex.
Every time it snows this winter, kids in town are encouraged to shovel out a fire hydrant and have their parents send a photo of them shoveling via a direct message to the Newmarket Fire and Rescue's Facebook page. The firefighters will randomly select one child as a "Hydrant Hero" after each snowstorm and give them a ride to school in a fire truck.
Firefighter Ben VanCamp said he co-opted the idea from a Massachusetts fire department near where he grew up.
"I wanted to build community engagement," VanCamp said. "This is a great way to get the kids outside in the snow and helping the town in a meaningful way."
VanCamp said when responding to a fire, it can take several minutes to unload a hose and get it attached to a fire hydrant. Having to stop to shovel out a hydrant before attaching the hose can cost precious time, he said.
"The sooner they are cleared off, it's a better situation," he said. "Having to dig them out will slow our response and that can put residents, firefighters and personal property at greater risk. That's why the Hydrant Heroes are such a big help."
VanCamp said Michael received his trip to school on the fire truck on Dec. 13. He was greeted by his whole family, the principal and his teachers when he stepped down from the fire truck.
"Michael was delighted, he had a huge grin on his face the whole time and he could barely get a sentence out," VanCamp said. "It was a great moment."
Bogacz said the Hydrant Hero effort is a great little way for kids to pitch in to help their community.
"It's exciting Michael was the first child to be recognized," she said. "It's a great program because it teaches kids that hard work pays off, and it gets them to think of ways they can help their community."
©2020 Portsmouth Herald, N.H.