With snow piling up, fire departments are asking for the public’s help to keep hydrants clear of snow so they can have access to them in case of fire.

The Knoxville, Pella, and Indianola Fire Departments are each asking businesses and the public to help them out by “adopting” a hydrant and clearing at least three feet around it. Pella Fire Chief Doug Van Gorkom encourages clearing from curb to hydrant when possible, to give crews extra space in case of emergency.

Indianola says valuable time can be lost if firefighters have to spend time at a fire scene digging out a hydrant. And Knoxville Fire Chief Cal Wyman tells KNIA/KRLS News while his firefighters occasionally go out on work details and dig out hydrants, it’s much more efficient to have someone which lives or works nearby keep them clear.

“We try to pay attention to different hydrants, especially in…some areas where we know it could be an issue,” Chief Wyman says. “And if we have to, we’ll try to get them cleaned off as soon as we can; but we’re not as quick getting to them as somebody that lives right there would be.”

Chief Wyman says you should take care when working on a hydrant; a snowblower or plow is good for clearing out large spaces, but can damage the pipes or fixtures, so the snow on or near a hydrant should be cleared away by hand, using shovels or brooms.