Mayor Menino Invites Residents to "Adopt-A-Hydrant" this Winter
New website encourages volunteers to help the Fire Department and their neighbors by shoveling out snowed-in hydrants after snowstorms
| | More
For Immediate Release
January 19, 2012
Released By:
Mayor's Office
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office

From shoveling out cars to building snowmen, Boston residents know that the challenges and joys of winter are best handled when people work together.  Today, Mayor Thomas M. Menino launched the Adopt-A-Hydrant program, a first-of-its-kind effort, designed to tap into this community spirit.  The program provides a website ( where residents can volunteer to shovel out specific hydrants in their neighborhoods. 

 “Whether you are coaching little league or helping to maintain a park, volunteers provide the foundation for strong neighborhoods in Boston,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “The Adopt-A-Hydrant program is the newest opportunity for our residents to show the great sense of volunteerism that shines in Boston all year, and it’s a great example of how we can use technology to build community and keep neighborhoods safe.”

The Boston Fire Department will continue to lead the effort to shovel out the City’s hydrants.  Given, however, that there are more than 13,000 hydrants in the City, volunteers can help ensure that those hydrants are cleared of snow even faster. Last year, the Boston Fire Department responded to 5,653 fires.

 “While our firefighters will always be the City’s first and last line of defense, Adopt-A-Hydrant provides an easy way for residents interested in lending a hand to improve neighborhood safety,” said Boston Fire Commissioner Rod Fraser.  “As the nation’s first fire department, we are always looking for innovative ways to improve fire prevention and response.”

Adopt-A-Hydrant is the most recent addition in the City’s portfolio of volunteer programs.  Other signature volunteer programs include Boston Shines, which supports local groups conducting neighborhood clean-ups; the Boston Medical Reserve Corps, which facilitates medical professionals assisting in public health emergencies; and the Community Emergency Response Team program, which trains residents to help neighborhoods weather other emergencies.

To adopt one of the 13,000 public hydrants, residents go to the website, enter an address, and choose the hydrant(s) they would like to volunteer to shovel out from the selected geographic area. Adopters, who have the opportunity to name their adopted hydrants, will be reminded during winter snowstorms of appropriate snow shoveling protocols. 

“Informed and engaged residents are key to the City’s ability to respond to any emergency – big or small,” said Don McGough, the City’s Director of Emergency Management.  “Adopt-A-Hydrant offers a new format for engaging residents in the wake of some of our toughest storms.”

The Adopt-A-Hydrant application was developed by Erik Michaels-Ober, a Code for America fellow, who served with the City of Boston in 2011.  The City is piloting the application this year.  If successful, the City will explore how this application could be used to encourage adoption of other streetscape features, such as catch basins or trees.  The app also is available for other places to use and, to-date, three cities – Chicago, Honolulu, and Buenos Aires – already have all expressed an interest in adapting it for use by their residents. 

 “We were pleased to be one of the first cities to partner with Code for America and excited about the possibility of Adopt-A-Hydrant,” said Bill Oates, Boston’s Chief Information Officer.  “The innovative applications that came from this partnership are allowing us to provide new services to Boston residents and share new software and ideas with other cities.”


Adopt A Hydrant is a project of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics and the Boston Fire Department. Mayor Menino’s Office of New Urban Mechanics focuses on piloting transformative City services that spark civic engagement and leverage new technology. 


Related Links