Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News
A fire hydrant in front of a home that recently had a fire was partially buried in snow. Finding and clearing it delayed firefighters.

SANDY — It's usually the Sandy Fire Department that comes to the rescue of its residents. But now firefighters are asking for the public's help.

The snowstorm that walloped the Wasatch Front Monday hit Sandy exceptionally hard.

"We got pounded by that storm. We got absolutely killed," said Sandy fire spokesman Zach Robinson.

By the time the storm was over, 90 percent of the city's estimated 4,500 fire hydrants were fully buried, he said. Because of that, firefighters are asking residents to help dig out Sandy's hydrants, preferably leaving a 36-inch clearance around each one.

The problem is when firefighters arrive at an emergency, such as a house fire, and can't find a hydrant, it takes an extra two minutes to dig it out.

"(That's) huge. Those two or three minutes, we could be fighting a fire," he said. "I can't stress enough that seconds count so much. If we could use that extra two to three minutes to fight the fire rather than find a hydrant."

Tuesday night, Sandy firefighters responded to a two-alarm house fire near 11500 South and 2000 East. Firefighters were briefly delayed as they searched for a fire hydrant, which was partially buried. The problem did not affect the outcome of the fire.

Sandy fire crews were out Tuesday trying to dig out as many hydrants as they could. But Robinson said they could really use the public's help on this one.

Robinson also noted that residents in every city, not just Sandy, should dig out their hydrants.