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Hydrants should be more clearly marked: Weprin

By Kelsey Durham

City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) is renewing his quest to make fire hydrants across the city more visible.

The northeast Queens lawmaker is preparing to reintroduce a bill this month that would require markers to be placed on all fire hydrants in New York City in order to make them more readily seen by people in the community.

After originally introducing legislation a little over a year ago that he said had trouble getting through the Council, Weprin said he was inspired to bring the issue forward again by the harsh winter the city has experienced.

He said the bill originated after he was approached by fire officials who said hydrants often get plowed in after winter storms and buried by snow banks that could last for months.

“God forbid there’s an emergency — they can be really hard to find if we need one,” Weprin said. “People forget how much snow we can get here. I’m hoping now that we got it, people will realize this is a problem.”

The bill would require the city to fund markers that Weprin described as flags about 3 feet tall to be placed on every hydrant in the five boroughs. The goal, he said, is to make sure fire officials and other emergency workers can easily find a hydrant when one is needed, but it would also allow homeowners to better see if a hydrant near their property is buried and should be shoveled out.

Weprin said an added bonus is that drivers would be more clearly aware of where hydrants are in order to reduce their chances of parking in front of one.

The councilman said he did not have an exact figure yet as to how much the flags would cost but said it would be a “very cheap,” one-time expense, and they would be easy to install and would not require much maintenance by the Department of Environmental Protection, which maintains the hydrants.

“All hydrants are inspected during the course of the year, so when it’s inspected, a flag can be placed on there,” he said. “It can be done during the same course of the jobs they’re already doing so labor costs would be minimal.”

Weprin said he has seen some other counties in New York, including neighboring Nassau, abiding by laws requiring hydrants to be clearly marked with taller objects. Although he said the bill was not pursued aggressively the first time around, he hopes the last few months of snowfall have shed a new light on how helpful the idea could be.

“This reminds people how necessary it is,” said Weprin. “We would hate to have a situation where lives are jeopardized because a fire hydrant can’t be found.”

Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at kdurham@cnglocal.com.

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