'Parked cars are blocking 999 calls'
PUBLISHED: 17:06 13 January 2015 | UPDATED: 14:25 14 January 2015
Inconsiderate parking is blocking the way for emergency services trying to navigate Sidmouth's narrow streets when every second counts - and crews have urged motorists to think twice.
The fire service has noticed that an increasing number of homeowners want to park their vehicles directly outside their properties - without considering that access may be required for fire engines.
The issue is most important in cul-de-sacs, recently in areas such as Lymebourne Park and Arcot Park – and motorists could be committing the offence of wilful obstruction of the highway.
Crew manager Jack Burgess said: “Some of the streets are narrow, even without parked cars. Obviously, the size of our vehicle being what it is, we need slightly more room to manoeuvre than a car.
“This is a holiday area and visitors also need to be aware of parking issues and not automatically switch off when they arrive at their holiday home.”
“It is an on-going problem, which occurs all over the service area. There have been occasions when bad parking has delayed fire engines from reaching serious incidents.
“Every second counts when the emergency services are responding to an incident.
“When people are parking outside their home, we would ask them to consider whether a fire engine or ambulance would be able to get to their house in an emergency?”
He asked that drivers park close to the kerb, leave enough space for a fire engine or ambulance to get past, with more on corners, and to tuck in their wing mirrors.
An ambulance service spokesman said that there had been no specific issues raised by paramedics in Sidmouth but that any delay could cost lives.
Sergeant Andy Squires reminded motorists that the fire engine could be attending an incident at their home.
He said the police did have powers to remove vehicles that caused an obstruction and to prosecute – but with so many narrow streets to patrol, he asked car owners to use their common sense.