A new law now in effect in New Jersey allows the state’s 565 local governments to require property owners to clear snow away from a fire hydrant near their home within 24 hours after a snowstorm or face a fine of as much as $75.

Bill Newberry, the vice president of the New Jersey State Fire Chiefs Association, said removing snow from around the hydrants is an important safety measure:

Homeowners need to understand that when the fire apparatus arrives on scene and if we have to jump out with a shovel and clear the snow, that’s all time that’s being taken away from the actual suppression effort. When there is a fire, every second counts.”

I understand the spirit of this law, but how am I supposed to be held responsible when the plows cover my nearest hydrant with an extra six feet of snow? It's an annoyance when you clear a parking spot only to have a plow barricade you back in, but if people start getting fines, things might get ugly.

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