Thoughtless parking can put lives at risk - that's the message from from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) firefighters.
They are urging motorists in the county to carefully consider where they are leaving their vehicles, as crews have seen an increase bad parking that could delay crews attending potentially life-threatening emergencies.
Over recent weeks there have been incidents in Wellingborough, Rothwell and Irthlingborough where fire appliances have struggled to pass through streets where vehicles have been double parked, parked down both sides of a narrow street, parked on double yellow lines, and outside a school blocking the only access point for emergency vehicles.
Crews have even seen a vehicle parked across a fire station bay, meaning if they received an emergency call, they would not be able to leave the station.
Rob Berwick, watch manager at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Parking inconsiderately not only causes unnecessary obstructions and frustrations to other motorists, but it can also make it difficult for all emergency services to access certain areas when responding to 999 calls. It could mean the difference between life and death.
“At this time of year we see an increase in the number of vehicles on the road, due to darker evenings and inclement weather. We are asking people to make sure that their car is parked sensibly to allow emergency service vehicles to pass by without obstruction.”
The Highway Code states that ‘you should not stop or park anywhere you would prevent access for emergency services’ and ‘do not stop or park opposite or within 10m of a junction, except if in an authorised parking space’.
There have also been reports of vehicles parked either over or too close to fire hydrants. This again causes problems for firefighters and can prevent the fire service from extinguishing fires and carrying out potentially life-saving work.
A standard Scania fire appliance is approximately 2.6m wide by 8m long and requires more space to manoeuvre than many people realise. They also require additional space when negotiating road junctions and navigating narrow residential streets.
NFRS has suggested sticking to the following guidelines to avoid blocking or delaying the emergency services attending an incident:
Do not park in front of emergency service access points
Do not park in front of fire stations
Do not park over, or too near to hydrants
Obey the Highway Code and road markings such as yellow lines and box junctions
Park as close to the kerb as possible
Park straight with wheels straight and fold in mirrors
In narrow streets only park on one side of the road, unless there are official parking spaces
Do not park too close to corners or traffic calming measures
Leave extra room at tight junctions
Please remember that every second counts when someone calls the emergency services