Bad parking in Topsham could cost lives in a fire emergency

PUBLISHED: 10:00 17 April 2016

Archant

Poorly parked cars could be putting people’s lives at risk, Topsham Fire Station watch commander Steve Hilton has warned.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has become increasingly concerned that their crews could be seriously delayed getting to an emergency because of inconsiderate parking.

It is an offence to obstruct an emergency vehicle and fire crews are legally permitted to forcibly remove cars causing an obstruction.

Mr Hilton said inconsiderate parking was an ongoing problem in Topsham.

He said: “Bad parking could cost lives in Topsham. If we are delayed or can’t get past a vehicle, we will have to transport all our equipment off the engine and set up our portable pump, which takes time to set up.

“I remember a few years ago there was a shed fire and we really struggled to get there, as we had to go very slowly past parked cars.

“It is a very frustrating situation.

“The Strand, Monmouth Avenue... and there are other areas we struggle to get round in Topsham.

“It is an ongoing problem in Topsham as there just aren’t enough car parks or driveway spaces for people.

“Residents are looking for available spaces, but they are not thinking of the bigger picture.”

The fire and rescue service has issued the following advice to drivers:

● Park close to the kerb.

● Leave enough space for a fire engine or an ambulance to pass.

● Leave extra room near tight corners.

● Fold in your wing mirror.

A fire can take hold within minutes, says Topsham city councillor and former fireman Rob Newby.

Cllr Newby, who served in the London Fire Brigade for 20 years, is urging people to think more carefully about where they park in the town.

He said: “It only takes minutes for a fire to take hold. It is demoralising for crews, as you can lose someone because of it.

“My message to people in Topsham is to think more carefully about where they park. The emergency services could be coming for you, a neighbour or someone you care about.”

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