Two separate Minnesota fire departments are reminding the public not to drive over fire hoses while crews are responding to a blaze.
Both the Virginia Fire Department and Duluth Fire Department say this exact thing happened during recent calls, with drivers damaging lines — and endangering the firefighters.
In Virginia, the fire department took to Facebook to explain it was at the scene of a blaze Wednesday evening when someone drove over a water supply line.
"A fire hose, large or small, is a life line for firefighters," the post said. "Driving over a fire hose could result in the loss of a critical water supply to a fire engine and the crew fighting a fire. Don’t drive over a fire hose! It could be a matter of life and death."
Thursday morning, about 50 miles south, a similar incident happened in Duluth, according to a city news release. While firefighters were tackling a blaze at a single-family home, multiple drivers ran over hose lines the crews were using. One of those supply lines ended up with "several holes" in it as a result of the drivers' actions.
To make matters worse, one of those drivers had intentionally maneuvered around two Duluth Police Department squad cars stationed at the scene, apparently unwilling to find a different route.
Assistant Chief Brent Consie called it "frustrating," and explained how driving over the water lines can imperil the firefighters:
“Water pressure in a 4-inch yellow supply line contains pressure of over 100psi. That hose from the hydrant to the pumper supplies the water firefighters need to control the fire and to keep other buildings from catching fire. A break in that hose line will cause a water disruption of 5 minutes or more," he said in a statement. "Depending on our operation, this may not be enough time to evacuate our crews. In addition, should someone drive over a smaller attack line and puncture that, fire crews would experience an immediate loss of water and would be put in grave danger."
Last October, the Stewartville Fire Department had a citizen drive across a water supply line. It damaged a $700 section of the hose and caused a leak that risked a catastrophic failure of the line.
"When you see firefighters working and our fire hoses are on the ground or across streets, please understand that our fire hoses are our life lines. We want to go home to our families just as badly as you want to get to your destination," the department wrote.
It's also worth mentioning: Driving over a fire hose is illegal. Minnesota statute says no vehicle "shall be driven over any unprotected hose of a fire department when laid down on any street, private driveway, or streetcar track," unless a fire department official gives the OK.
If you do happen to approach an active fire scene, just take a detour, the Duluth Fire Department said.
Added Consie: "The issue of catastrophic water loss can be prevented simply by never driving over a hose line on a fire scene.”