MLFD needs help with hydrants, and Chief Frievalt is offering rewards
According to Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District (MLFPD) Chief Frank Frievalt, the 246 inches of snow that fell in January in Mammoth Lakes has completely obscured 90 percent of the town’s roughly 700 fire hydrants.
If a hydrant is inaccessible, the department has to haul a limited amount of water from the station in the water tender. If crews can’t get the water tender within fighting distance of a fire, it can take more than thirty minutes to dig out a buried hydrant. With three to four employees working on an engine on a given day, the crews are swamped with work, said Frievalt. CalFire crews have been called in to assist with the digging. Prior to last weekend’s storm, crews were maintaining about 105 fire hydrants around town. This week, they’re working with about 70.
This brings us to Chief Frievalt’s famous “Firehouse Gnocchi” and pozole.
This upcoming Saturday and Sunday, January 28 and 29, Chief Freivalt will be driving around Mammoth Lakes with hot soup and drinks for those willing to dig out their hydrants. The Westin Monache Resort has been hosting volunteer missions that leave from the hotel lobby to do the same every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
“When you join a firehouse, it’s in everyone’s best interest to have you be a good cook,” said Frievalt. He says every fire department has a “barrage of cooks out there.” Notable specialties from MLFPD include Scott Walker’s tri tip and Bryce Freeman’s rotisserie chickens. Chief Frievalt developed his Firehouse Gnocchi when he and his wife, Debbie, first moved to Mammoth Lakes. The couple loved to eat at an Italian Restaurant in the Reno area that served incredible soup.They experimented extensively to recreate the meal. “We just had to get our fix,” reflected Chief Frievalt.
Firefighter Ryan Eggleston told The Sheet, “I’ve been lucky enough to have this meal at least five times now as prepared by the Chief…Maybe if we as a diverse community came together as perfectly as all of the parts of this recipe does, we could find a great blend of teamwork to get the job done.”
“We’re having fun, but in all seriousness, I need help,” said Chief Frievalt. “We just don’t have enough people and we never know when we are going to need one of those hydrants.” He said that residents should be vigilant of gas lines to their houses bursting under the weight of snow and ice. He advised people to be proactive about snow removal, especially from vents and potential emergency exits such as bedroom windows.
Eggleston said digging out these hydrants is an opportunity the community should not turn down. “Hey, if digging out even one fire hydrant has the chance to save a kitchen that could possibly produce firehouse gnocchi one day, sign me up!”