Saturday, February 28, 2015

Of Firemen And Flying And Snowfall: February IS The Cruellest Month

Scene opens on a living room. Nance and Rick are sitting on the couch watching a news story about a group of college students who are working as volunteers in one residential community. They are shovelling out fire hydrants which have been buried under icy four-foot drifts of plowed snow, presenting a very real danger in case of fire.

Rick: (outraged) That's just ridiculous. Why would you let that happen?
Nance:  Firemen have a lot of downtime. Why isn't there a team of firefighters going around, shovelling out those hydrants? Lots of them are just lolling around the firehouse playing cards and inventing chili recipes.
Rick: (if possible, even more outraged) Nance, they can't do that! They'd have to send out the whole truck with all the guys. What if there was a fire someplace? Those guys would be out someplace shovelling out a hydrant, and the rest of them would have to wait or go pick them up. It just doesn't work like that.
Nance: (losing interest now) I guess. The whole thing is a mess.
Rick: It should work like the emergency exit on an airplane. If someone wants to buy a house on a lot with a fire hydrant, they should have to agree to shovel the snow around it in the winter. You know, like the way the flight attendant asks you if you agree to be in charge of the emergency exit in case of a sudden landing and all that. If the homeowner can't handle it, then that's it--no sale.
Nance: (perking up) That is genius! It's perfect.
Rick: Have you ever sat in the emergency exit aisle?
Nance: Heck yes. And I was fully prepared to haul that door off and take control. Absolutely.
Rick: Did you ever see anyone refuse?
Nance: Yes, a frail little old lady, and I was glad that she did. We would never have gotten out alive. And I once saw a woman with a kid sit there briefly, and I knew there was no way in hell that was good for me. She'd get so wrapped up in finding a sippy cup or a blankie that we'd all die.
Rick: This is what I'm talking about. Only responsible people should have these hydrants in their yard. It's better for everyone.

End scene.



  1. Well, I didn't realize that I was deficient in Rick and Nance discussions, but obviously I was because now I feel like I've had a lifesaving infusion. Thank you! You guys crack me up and, yes, why hasn't anyone thought of this idea sooner? People are told to keep their mailboxes and newspaper boxes clear, why not fire hydrants for goodness sake?

    And let's be real about the exit row seats, many sit in them because they simply want more legroom and more often than not you have to pay for the privilege/have elite status to sit in them these days. None of those things gives one a warm and fuzzy that the folks will actually assist other passengers in an emergency. I do agree on your assessment, Nance. A mom is a mom, first and foremost, so your conclusions are pretty accurate I think. I also think that most would even have trouble putting on the oxygen mask before ensuring their child had his/her on.


    1. Shirley--Thank you. It had been a while since one of our little discussions had made it here. We have snow overmuch in NEO now, and I think the local news outlets have finally run out of things to say about it. This is the first report about shovelling hydrants that I think I have ever seen. It is important to note that it did NOT send Rick scurrying out to check on the welfare of any nearby hydrants on our street. He was not quite that concerned.

      Regarding the exit row--yes, that is the ONLY reason I ever request seating there--the extra room. On some aircraft, it is also a row with no middle seat. I know on Southwest, you have to be at least 15 to sit there, and unaccompanied by children. I am old and curmudgeonly when I fly and do not care for the company of littles at that time.

      Happy to see you here. I hope March is good to you.

  2. All this fire hydrant discussion made me wonder how the water in fire hydrants even works with these crazy sub-freezing temperatures. So I googled it and found this interesting explanation:

    Fire hydrants are equipped with an anti-siphon valve (meaning they are self-draining). The valve seal--the "door," so to speak--is at the bottom of the hydrant ... underground, safely below the frost line, at the point where the hydrant taps into the water main. A long rod runs from this valve to the top of the hydrant. The firefighters put a wrench on the top of the rod to open the hydrant. Once turned off, the water drains from the hydrant back into the ground around it so the barrel from the water main into the hydrant is empty. Hydrants are considered frostproof up to -50 degrees.

    But the first source of water for firefighters is not the fire hydrant. It's the fire engine (as opposed to the fire truck, which carries the ladders). A standard fire engine usually holds from 500-700 gallons of water, more than enough to put out the average house fire.

    So that just leaves me with whether I would sit by the emergency door. And if I could get out of it, I would. Not because I am not willing to do this, but because I don’t trust myself not to screw up and not be able to open the door and be responsible for everyone suffocating inside the plane. I have only ever been asked to do this once, on a tiny little commuter plane from NY to Philadelphia, and I had no choice because it was the only seat left when I boarded. I was really, really happy when we landed, especially as it was a very turbulent flight and in a small plane... never again!

    1. Ortizzle--I don't see how that little bit of water is plenty for the average house fire, but doubtless they are correct. My little backyard pond holds over a hundred gallons, and it is itty bitty. And what a fine distinction between fire engine and fire truck. I shall continue to use the terms interchangeably and be ignorant, your exhaustive research to the contrary.

      The Covenant Of The Emergency Door is really a shared one. Absolutely someone will assist you is my firm belief. I pay attention, leave the card at the ready with the instructions visible, and then hope I don't have to make good on my promise. So far, so good. But, as Shirley commented above, now it's premium seating on some airlines, so the cheapskate in me won't pay for it.

      Glad you made it down from that bumpy flight, of course. Those little puddle-jumpers make me nervous.

    2. I had exactly the same reaction to the number of gallons needed to put out a house fire! Seems to me that just one fire hose ought to be pumping out 50-100 gallons a minute. But what do I know? And I am also certain that it is imperative that fire hydrants be accessible at all times. Back to responsible homeowners! (And a back-up plan in case said homeowners are on vacation in Florida when the need arises.)

      As far as someone assisting me on the Door Opening Ritual.... I am sure there would be many offers of help, but I’m the kind of person who likes to have this type of thing all rehearsed beforehand. So, uh, in case it really happens, either I or someone near me who is ready to assist actually knows what the hell they are doing. If this happens to me again, I guarantee I will be memorizing every line in the little safety card instructions. Either that, or I want to know the procedure followed by the JetBlue flight attendant who grabbed a couple of beers and deployed the evacuation slide, lol.

  3. I like this idea. Of course enforcement would be tricky. It's not like on a plane where you can switch seats. Switching house could be problematic… or quite fun, I suppose. Depending on your love of decorating.

    1. Ally Bean--Enforcement is always an issue, but switching houses is a last resort. A fine would be first, I'd imagine. That would shape most people up immediately.

  4. Boy, now that you've brought this up I'll have to start taking my daily walks outside again & policing the hydrants. Because I know that my neighborhood is filled with ne'er-do-wells & elderly folks & such. Neither sleet, nor snow, nor rain!

    (Who am I kidding - I don't even like to walk outside when it's 35 degrees & sunny!)

    1. Bug--I haven't taken a walk outdoors since early January. I can't get through more than a fifteen-foot span before I encounter an unshovelled sidewalk. And let's not talk about the ice. Walking in the street is NOT an option. That's full of ice and snow too. Sigh.

      But the idea of you being the Hydrant Police and writing citations is quite something. Get on that!

  5. I've never considered fire hydrants under the snow. I liveed in Alaska as a kid, where I'm sure it was an issue, but I was a kid, so I didn't care.

    Until recently I would happily take the exit aisle on a plane. With my crummy wrists right now, I think I'd pass. I'd hate for people to die because my hands are arthritic.

    1. J@jj--Oh, as kids, we didn't even think of such mundane things. I doubt I even thought of a fire hydrant as being used for an actual fire.

      This whole arthritis thing with you is just terrible! Right out of nowhere. Thank goodness you live in a temperate climate! Think if you still lived in Alaska, or if in NEO, or even in Portland! Small comfort, I know, but if good wishes were curative, know that you'd be feeling so much better just from me alone. XXOO


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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