Boston Fire Department recruits spend the day shoveling out hydrants in the city

Boston firefighter recruits, Tom Nee (left) and Pat McKenna (right),  shovel out a hydrant on Columbus Avenue today. (Globe staff photo / Bill Greene) section: metro
Boston firefighter recruits, Tom Nee (left) and Pat McKenna (right), shovel out a hydrant on Columbus Avenue today. (Globe staff photo / Bill Greene) section: metro
Bill Greene/Globe Staff

This morning, 53 hopeful Boston firefighters are spreading out across Boston to dig out snow-covered fire hydrants as part of the city’s response to the Blizzard of 2013.

Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser spoke briefly to the recruits as they gathered at Florian Hall in Dorchester before they were dispatched in teams of about 10 to East Boston, Roxbury, Allston, and Charlestown.

Fraser “reminded them that we work for the people of Boston and hydrants are basically one of the tools of our trade,’’ said department spokesman Steve MacDonald. “You can’t put fires out unless you have a water supply.’’

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MacDonald said the recruits will be relocated to other parts of the city this afternoon. The focus is on neighborhoods in the city where buildings and homes are built close together, MacDonald said.

The department knows the locations of all of the 13,000 or so hydrants in the city, but will rely on the recruits to identify targets once they are in assigned neighborhoods. In East Boston, for example, the recruits will start in Day Square and work outward from there, MacDonald said.

The 54 recruits — 53 men and one woman — started their training a few weeks ago, and are required to perform physical training on a daily basis.

The hydrant shoveling assignment will count as the workout for the day. One recruit was allowed to skip the assignment due to back pain, said MacDonald.

MacDonald said 53 of the 54 recruits are military veterans, including the lone woman candidate.