CAMPTON HILLS – Chris Durkop doesn’t view his efforts last week to clear snow and ice from fire hydrants as anything special. As a paid on-call firefighter with the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District, he said, the task was part of his job.
But Campton Hills resident Patrick Parsons was impressed when he came home from work the afternoon of March 8 to find Durkop and firefighter Chris Wampnar hunched over, shoveling snow from a hydrant on Herman Melville Lane.
He offered to shovel so they could rest, but “they wouldn’t let me do it,” Parsons said, noting they gave him a tour of their paid on-call vehicle.
Fire Chief Greg Benson said it’s common for firefighters to clear hydrants after a snowfall because plows usually push the precipitation around them. Because the firefighters can’t get to all of the district’s hydrants, they focus on key areas, he said.
“It’s a long process,” Benson said.
Durkop, a 20-year-old December graduate of the Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy, said he and his coworkers – he also shoveled March 7 with another firefighter – cleared hydrants in the Fox Mill, Bell-Graham Elementary School, Wasco Elementary School and Campton Crossings areas.
“You always want to be prepared for [an emergency],” Durkop said.
Residents greeted the firefighters as they worked, Durkop said. He said one generous family even gave them Gatorade and Coke.
Parsons said it was good to see the firefighters working in the neighborhood and talking with passers-by, including children.
“They may have been doing the simple task of removing the three feet of snow that built up around the fire hydrants from snow plows, but to passersby it would have looked much more significant,” Parsons said in an email.
“It would look like the telltale stories told of heroes geared up in their firefighter outfits doing what needed to be done without hesitation or questioning why. It would have looked like two leaders trying to make their community as safe as possible for all who lived there, regardless of whether or not they knew them or went to school with them or were even their really close friends.”