The City of Dickinson is asking for the community's assistance in "adopting" a fire hydrant to keep clear to help the fire department in case of an emergency.
The community has had a similar program in the past, but Daryl Hochhalter, the city's geographic information systems technician, helped create an application based off a template from a software company that the public can use which mapped out the locations of the majority of fire hydrants around the city.
Some fire hydrants have been buried by the snow this winter.
"It's important that the hydrants are cleared, and, because of the number of them, it's tough for the city to send out a crew to get it all done, so they were hoping to get a little help from the public," Hochhalter said. "It would be great in the event of a fire that the fire department didn't actually have to shovel it out first before they had to hook up. That's the main reason."
The city is asking that people clear the snow six inches below all caps and three to four feet around the hydrant as well as the space between the hydrant and the street, according to a city press release.
There are about 1,750 fire hydrants on the map, though there may be some within the city limits that are not on the app, Hochhalter said.
Once people identify a fire hydrant they wish to adopt, they can visit the app and zoom into the area where the hydrant is located to find it and claim it. People can even give the hydrant a nickname, said Deb Barros, Dickinson Fire Department's assistant fire chief.
It slows down fire fighters when they have to dig out their hydrants in order to respond to a fire emergency, and it is easier to locate the hydrants when they are visible above the snow as well, she said.
She noted that if citizens keep the hydrants cleared from the snow, then there will be less time lost when securing fire hoses to the hydrant.
City engineer Craig Kubas said that some other surrounding communities had developed similar applications for people to adopt their hydrants.
"That way our guys know that if there, God forbid, is a call for a response in that neighborhood that they have hydrants that are accessible," Kubas said.