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25 May 2010, 06:00
Fire crews have told Heart that lives are being put at risk because people are parking so badly, they can't get engines to emergencies.
They say many roads are regularly turned into 'no-go zones' because cars are double parked, too close to junctions or left a long way from the kerb.
They are putting up posters and dropping leaflets through doors in Whistable where the problem is particularly bad.
Partnership Manager Stuart Tickle said: “We are seeing on a daily basis the town’s fire engines trying to get through ever decreasing gaps when they respond to incidents.
“It is particularly bad after 5pm. In some cases the crews have had to abandon their vehicle to reach an incident and have even risked taking an alternative route because their usual journey has been obstructed. But, by doing so, our crews risk being too late to save someone from the deadly effects of smoke and fire.”
The poster has been designed by firefighters and shows a fictitious newspaper headline which says: "Child dies in house fire", crew manager Nick Salt said: “Many of Whitstable’s roads are extremely narrow. Fire engines are wide vehicles and in areas where space is at a premium, we need all we can get so that we can work effectively.
“Just think what it would be like if you were trapped in your house by a fire, perhaps looking out of an upstairs window watching a fire engine attempting to reach you – but delayed by badly parked cars. It could happen to you.”
Fire crews will also work with local police neighbourhood officers and city council civil enforcement officers to monitor problem areas and target those who continue to ignore this message. This could involve fines, removal of cars causing an obstruction and the extension of double yellow lines by KCC Highways team in streets with persistent offenders.
Whitstable Police Community Support Officer Supervisor Graeme Downes said: “This is a very important initiative and while we are warning residents of the perils bad parking and how their carelessness can put others lives at risk, we want to remind all drivers that they face fixed penalty fares if they park illegally. We are looking forward to working with all those involved in this partnership to combat the problem.”
Canterbury City Council Coastal Community Safety Officer Graham Simpson said: “Canterbury City Council’s civil enforcement officers are working with our colleagues in the fire service to ensure that this vital message is conveyed to inconsiderate motorists who block access routes for emergency vehicles. Action will be taken against the owners of vehicles who park illegally.”