Tunbridge Wells firefighters are calling on residents to give serious consideration to how they park on side streets and to make sure emergency services can get through.
With car ownership on the rise, inconsiderate parking in residential streets has been a problem on and off for a while and firefighters fear that it is only a matter of time before this issue leads to tragedy.
Today’s plea is sparked by an issue faced by the crews while trying to get to a washing machine fire at a house in Stratford Street yesterday morning (20 April).
Firefighters were initially unable to drive the engine to the affected property due to a number of cars that had been double parked.
Watch Manager Mark Havell said: “We arrived within five minutes of receiving the fire call but because of the way vehicles had been parked on either side of the street, the nearest we could get with the fire engine was over 20 metres away.”
Mark got off the fire engine and walked to the property to assess the incident and the driver had no alternative but to keep the sirens sounding in an attempt to attract the attention of the car owners.
Mark said: “This resulted in a further delay of at least five minutes, while residents came out of nearby properties and moved the vehicles. Fortunately, on this occasion the incident was not life-critical and the fire had not spread further than the washing machine contents, as the occupant was at home and had discovered the fire early on.
“However, had the incident yesterday been more serious, perhaps involving someone who was trapped, the obstruction caused by the vehicles would certainly have forced us to
change our tactics, possibly requiring us to lay out longer hoses which would have caused further delays at a time when every second counts.”
He added: “While we all like to park as close to our homes as possible, we need people to be considerate when parking their vehicles. Take a quick look around and make sure that you’ve left enough space for emergency vehicles to get through – one day it could be your home we’re trying to get to.”