Consulting Arborist Corner- Clear around that fireplug!
A Plug for the Fire Department!
In your duties as a landscape maintenance contractor, pay specific attention to the fire hydrant in your client’s front lawn. When you plow snow in the winter do not push the snow so as to hide or limit access to the hydrant. Also when trimming shrubs in the summer, your clients may request that you do not trim much, because “they don’t want to see the fire hydrant in their front lawn”. Advise them that to clear the fire hydrant is a good practice and may be the law. According to the Indiana Fire Code, a fire hydrant is supposed to have “a 3-foot clear space (that) shall be maintained around the circumference of the fire hydrant, except as otherwise required or approved”.
A Landscape Architect or Designer needs to be very careful in designing plantings or fencing around a fire hydrant. First, never plant shrubs or specify a fence with the intent to totally screen the fire hydrant, as they are to be visible for fire safety. Also be careful in what you specify to plant near fire hydrants because if your proposed planting grows to hide the hydrant and prevents the fire department from finding it during a fire emergency, you may be liable!
Attorney W. Scott Montross, Indianapolis, who represents plaintiffs exclusively in civil litigation, “advises that preventing a Fire Department from accessing or locating a fire hydrant due to landscaping or fencing, could result in civil liability if it can be proven that such action caused or contributed to cause fire damage beyond what would have occurred had the hydrant been accessible.”
As you work to maintain your client’s property remember that a fire hydrant is a public safety structure that needs to be attended to. It is there for your client’s safety as well as others in the neighborhood.
Consulting Arborist Corner is brought to you by Jud Scott, a Registered Consulting Arborist. As a Consulting Arborist, Jud is available to assist you with tree care and tree conflicts that may arise.
Note: Jud Scott does not intend to provide legal advice and would like to thank W. Scott Montross for assistance. For further counsel or expert legal advice, call Scott at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy (317) 574-4500.