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Harrisburg firefighters facing snow removal challenges

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Instead of a large engine truck, the Harrisburg Fire Bureau's most effective mode of transportation the last few days has been a pickup aptly titled "Plow One".

The department  hasn't needed to fight many fires since Saturday's snow storm. Although, if and when they do, they are facing challenges navigating through Harrisburg's narrow side streets, especially those in Allison Hill. Any snow which has been plowed from off the streets is finding its way onto growing mounds on street corners, blocking the intersection sight lines for fire trucks and other emergency vehicles, Harrisburg Fire Chief Brian Enterline said.

So the Harrisburg Fire Bureau equipped two pickup trucks with snowplows. They'll go through the city's side streets which are passable, but still need to clear out extra room for emergency workers.

"It's a lot more than just going to fires," firefighter Nate Martin quipped.

Martin, along with Pablo Passalacqua, are the captains Tuesday in "Plow One". Their job this morning is to drive through Allison Hill, finding buried fire hydrants and dig them out.

On Monday night, a fire tore through a home on 18th Street. A fire hydrant sat directly across the street from the home, but it was hidden from crews responding to the fire. Instead, crews had to run hoses two blocks away to the nearest hydrant.

Fire officials are asking residents to make sure snow is shoveled around their nearest hydrant, so fire crews can quickly and safely respond to a call.

"Get us a 3-foot clear area around (the hydrant)," Chief Enterline said. "That is a huge help for us. Because when we go to look for the fire hydrant when there is a fire,  that`s time that could be spent putting water on a fire or rescuing you from a burning building."

Enterline also asked residents to make sure their sidewalks are clear too.

"Trudging through 3-feet of snow in heavy equipment is an incredible feat," Enterline said.