Fire chief’s plea after appliances blocked by lazy parkers

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FIRE chiefs have warned that lazy parking around the city is endangering lives after crews were blocked by inconsiderate motorists during an emergency call-out.

Double-parked cars severely disrupted efforts to rescue a man from a fire in Hawthornvale, Leith, on Saturday, with firefighters forced to draft in police help to get the vehicles moved.

The blockage delayed the rescue operation by several minutes, leading one Edinburgh fire chief to call for motorists to pay more attention when parking outside their homes.

John Dickie, deputy assistant chief officer, said drivers had to be more careful about where they parked because their carelessness could cause delays that lead to a fatality.

“This bad parking puts people’s lives at risk without a doubt,” he said.

“In this case a man was treated for smoke inhalation but the fire could have been much worse.

“We were called to a third-floor flat which was reported to be on fire and as it turned out it was a pan of food alight. However, fire crews were severely hampered trying to get to the resident’s house due to badly parked cars on the street.

“This can be a fairly common occurrence and we are constantly coming up against this. There has been instances in the past, particularly in Caledonian Crescent and Caledonian Road where there were serious 
incidents.”

“Firefighters had to run with their equipment because they could not get through on the appliance.

“That causes a time delay to get into the property by which time the incident might have escalated.”

The problem of emergency access to some of the city’s narrow streets has been a long-running issue. In September 2011 the News told how residents in Shandon colonies had drafted a petition to ban 
double-parking in the area after fire engines were blocked from getting to a major blaze which gutted five homes.

The previous year fire chiefs said a pensioner could have been killed when crews were blocked from getting to a blaze by double-parked cars.

Mr Dickie said the hotspots for poor parking include Newhaven, Dalry and the colonies in Shandon.

He added: “We understand parking in the city centre is difficult, but drivers need to bear in mind emergency services must be able to have access, day or night, or there will be a delay in our attendance. I’m sure drivers would not want to be the cause of someone suffering an injury or worse because emergency services can’t get to them in time.

“I would appeal to the communities of Edinburgh to take consideration and think about whether a fire appliance would be able to get past and not just a car.”