‘No One Can Keep Up': Firefighters Warn How Too Much Snow Can Hinder an Emergency Situation

Parts of Maine have seen more than 40 inches of snow in the last 10 days

It's not what's burning — but what's buried — that's bothering firefighters across Maine.

"When we're getting inches or feet of snow, no one can keep up," said New Gloucester Fire Captain Scott Doyle.

Parts of Maine have received more than 40 inches of snow in the last 10 days. As it piles up, and snow banks get bigger, Captain Doyle spots several problems in his own New Gloucester neighborhood: snow is covering mailboxes that have house numbers, and snow banks on the side of drive ways are making them too narrow to fit a fire truck.

"These trucks — if they can't get in there, we can't help you," he said.

Fire hydrants across town are under several feet of snow, and with more coming Wednesday night, the snow may even cover the flags meant to mark them.

Doyle worries these conditions could add up to a disaster, in the event of an emergency: firefighters can't find the right house, can't fit up the driveway, and can't access water quickly enough.

"The seconds are adding up to minutes, and in the situation of life safety, every second does count," he said.

In Skowhegan, firefighters responding to an apartment fire Tuesday night had to use their bare hands to dig out hydrants, which delayed their response to the flames.

Doyle is asking homeowners to remember to shovel out hydrants, create paths to primary and secondary entrances, and have driveways plowed so fire trucks and ambulances can fit through them.

Other measures to take include clearing vents and areas around outdoor propane tanks.

More snow is on the way Wednesday night, and Captain Doyle said the time to remove snow is now — before it gets too difficult — or too late.

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