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Firefighters from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) are urging motorists in the county to carefully consider where they are parking their vehicles, as crews see an increase in the number of cars being parked in places which could prevent them from 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.

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 10 metres 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.

Thoughtless parking can put lives at risk, as a standard Scania fire appliance is approximately 2.6 metres wide by 8 metres 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.

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.”

NFRS suggests 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.

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