NC firefighters beg: Watch out for us
Gaston County firefighters are reminding drivers to be aware of first responders who will be on the road working to update existing fire hydrants
Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.
Gaston County's firefighters are warning drivers to pay close attention as they maintain fire hydrants this spring.
No local firefighter has been struck by a car, but there are enough close calls to worry every emergency responder, according to Brad Hall, chaplain with the Gaston County Firefighters Association.
"We have had people drive through our cones and barricades," Hall said. "It doesn't matter how many lights you have flashing... Be aware that we're out there and at the end of the shift we have family that we would love to go see."
Ten firefighters died in the United States after being hit by a vehicle in 2017, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Distracted drivers pose the biggest risk to firefighters on the ground, Hall said.
"People are out distracted on their phone and it is quite often," Hall said. "It's hard to really make eye contact with these folks. A lot of times I don't know if they just don't see us or if they're focusing on something else. There's a lot of close calls out on the street."
The roughly 8,000 fire hydrants in Gaston County are owned by the city they reside in but maintained by 15 different fire departments in the county, Hall said. That means it's the firefighters who test water flow, measure readings, trim weeds and shrubs and provide them a fresh coat of paint.
Firefighters maintain and clean the hydrants three times per year. The benefits of the work are obvious anytime a major fire starts near a hydrant. Most fire engines carry about 1,000 gallons of water. The in-ground connection removes any worry of running out of water.
"That is your main source of water supply," Hall said. "I know in the city fire hydrants are plentiful. In the county you may not have a hydrant that is available where you're at. It's important to maintain them."
©2019 Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.