City implores you to adopt a cuddly hydrant

Tom Giffey, Tom Giffey |

So cute!
"Can we keep it?"

If, like the Grinch, your heart grows three sizes larger during the holiday season, you may be drawn to adopt something this time of year. Sadly, as cute as they are in Santa hats, puppies and kittens grow up, and they won’t be nearly as adorable in a few months –   yuletide spirits don't stick around to clean litter boxes.

What to do? The city of Eau Claire has a suggestion: Adopt something that requires no feeding or grooming and won’t whine to be let out in the middle of the night when it’s 20 below zero. Even better, it won’t mind if you stop caring for it in a few months. What is this wonder pet, you ask? A fire hydrant. According to the Eau Claire Fire and Rescue Department, there are 3,556(!) public fire hydrants in the city looking for wintertime caretakers. Snowfalls like the one that socked us this week (coupled with the passage of plows) can leave these sentinels of safety buried. While inaccessible fire hydrants may cause dismay to neighborhood dogs, they can cause serious problems for emergency personnel.

To quote a city press release, “At a fire, fire personnel must quickly locate and access a water supply source from the closest fire hydrant. A hydrant buried in snow is difficult to locate, and valuable time must be spent digging it out. The time spent accessing a water supply may delay the fire attack and allow a fire to grow and prevent potential rescue.”

The adoption process is simple: Clear the snow around the hydrant and shovel a path between the hydrant and the street. Repeat as needed after Old Man Winter comes back. Oh, and then feel a glow of satisfaction.

And hey, if you have questions about fire safety (who doesn't!), call the Eau Claire Fire and Rescue Department’s Fire Prevention Division at (715) 839-4825.