Observant drivers around Cranberry may have noticed something different about the township’s fire hydrants—there are flagpoles on them.
That’s not all. The spring-loaded poles also are topped with blue-and-white striped flags.
“They’re reflective, too,” said Bruce Hezlep, president of the Cranberry Township Volunteer Fire Company.
Hezlep said members of the township’s public works department began adding the flags to the fire hydrants on the township’s main corridors—including Route 228 and Route 19—and cul-de-sacs during the summer months, particularly in August.
Paid for by a $15,000 grant from the Office of the State Fire Commissioner, the flags act as visual markers in case snow buries the hydrants.
Hezlep recalls that during the snowstorms of February 2010, firefighters volunteered to go around to the various neighborhoods to dig out the hydrants. With the amount of snow on the ground, and pushed toward the curbs by plows, locating the hydrants wasn’t easy.
“We had a real big problem the big snow we had,” recalled Fire Chief Brian Kovac. “The township had to go around with a GPS to locate them.”
While the markers are new to Cranberry, Hezlep said the hydrant flags typically are found in snow-prone areas like Erie and Buffalo, N.Y.
“They’re very prevalent in those heavy, heavy snow areas,” he said.
The flags aren’t the only new tracking devices for the fire company.
The Cranberry Board of Supervisors last week approved the purchase of a new software package that will enhance the fire company’s ability to track its people, materials and records during emergency calls.
Called the Alpine Software RedNMX Records Management System, the package costs $51,332.
According to the township, software will eliminate the need for paper-based record keeping and consolidate many of the fire company’s fragmented reporting systems for personnel, incidents, training and inventory.
Hezlep said the software also displays information about hydrant locations, water system details, and floor plans of buildings. The system also is compatible with mobile devices.
He expected the technology to be rolled out in the next year.