Commentary: Clearing snow from Shelton sidewalks and fire hydrants

We have survived some very harsh weather lately, but that is what we have grown to expect of winters in Connecticut.

I don’t mean to be un-PC, but I just don’t feel the global warming that has everyone in Washington all up in arms. However, I would like to see the prices of gasoline, electricity, oil, and natural and propane gas come down as far as the temperatures have dropped this winter.

Our recent weather has played havoc with transportation, education, work schedules and our regular routine.

I know you are all weary from the cold, ice and snow, but please expect more of the same — and I am predicting that without ever having taken any meteorology courses in college.

Sidewalks, stairways and hydrants

Shelton, like most communities, does have ordinances and programs to keep us all safe, especially when we have snowfalls that can be detrimental to the mission of our first responders.

This brings me to request your assistance while we are still in New England winter mode. Sidewalks and stairways should be maintained clear of snow for all our first responders — fire, police and ambulance.

And just as importantly, we must take responsibility for assisting all our firefighters by clearing the area around fire hydrants.

If you delve into the city finances far enough, you will see that we pay annually for 1,443 fire hydrants within our city borders. Too many for our volunteer firefighters to keep clear.

We don’t have an ordinance that specifically directs the owners of property where fire hydrants are located to clear them of snow, but it does give home and business owners direction to keep them clear for fire personnel.

Hydrants should not be blocked by vehicles, planted around, or have anything around them that would impede fire personnel from being able to access them immediately.

No fanfare, and with class

I attended three of the Shelton Fire Department’s “Past Captains Nights” during the last four weeks.

Each was a great event to welcome and celebrate the newly elected leaders of the fire company, sing the praises for those who answered the call to duty, and honor those men and women who have gone before us for their service to Shelton citizens and the firefighting brotherhood.

Sounds pretty serious, and it is, but our city firefighters take what they do in stride. One company answered almost 500 calls for assistance in 2013.

They went out during the worst part of Storm Nemo in February 2013, going where snow plows could not venture — rescuing ill people at home and one diabetic person stranded on the road side.

They did it with no fanfare and when recognized, they came up to accept a plaque or citation for their heroism and they did it with class.

No long speeches, just a nod of their head, a short wave, a quick “thank you” and shaking the hands of those on the dais, while the audience cheered and clapped.

Serving their hometown

Some of them are seasoned veterans and others new to the Shelton fire service, but all are proud of what they have accomplished with the knowledge they have served their city with distinction and other first responders are watching their back.

I also would like to thank the family members of firefighters, and pray that every first responder returns home healthy after each emergency call.

And please don’t forget to put large numbers on your mail boxes and houses so that in any emergency, your home or business can be found and identified easily.

Spring is coming

It will be about six more weeks before spring is in the air so start planning your summer gardens, break out and clean the golf clubs and your baseball gloves, and remember to shop locally and support the businesses created and managed by your neighbors.

And be watching for details about an outstanding Shelton Eagle Scout project that has refurbished the truck bay area at the Huntington Fire Company.

Anthony F. Simonetti is chairman of the Shelton Republican Town Committee as well as an alderman for the First Ward.