Ashland is testing a fire-hydrant marking system beginning this month that is designed to help firefighters find hydrants faster.

Ashland is testing a fire-hydrant marking system beginning this month that is designed to help firefighters find hydrants faster.

Street department officials are painting small, blue silhouettes of fire hydrants in the middle of city streets, adjacent to hydrants. The city, which did not previously have a hydrant marking program, is testing the new system this fall and winter.

"One of the challenges we face is that hydrants can easily become overgrown with vegetation, or if it's dark at night, they can be hard to find," said Margueritte Hickman, division chief and fire marshal with Ashland Fire & Rescue. "By having an indicator in the street, it makes it easier for us to know where to look."

Many communities mark hydrants with blue, reflective dots, according to the city. The city opted not to install the reflective dots because they must be placed in a trough in the street so they won't be scraped by snow plows, according to a release.

Fire officials are also asking residents who live near fire hydrants to ensure that vegetation is cleared at least 3 feet around the hydrant.

"We need a clear space to operate the hydrant," Hickman said. "It can be time consuming if there's a lot of vegetation."

The city will evaluate the effectiveness, durability and cost of the marking system throughout the winter, according to the release.

"This is a work in progress," Hickman said. "It's going to take a lot of time to complete this project."

— Ashland Daily Tidings