The Chief’s Corner

By Robert W. Seltzer, BSEE, EFO, MP Chief Smithfield Fire Dept.

How many times has it irritated you to drive to your local shopping area to find a car parked in the fire lane? The message is simple, clear and direct! “NO PARKING – FIRE LANE” means just that.

When there is a fire or related emergency, such as a person having a heart attack, or more commonly we get called for falls and seizures, police, fire, and medical vehicles need to have proper access so that our personnel can get close enough to the buildings for rescue, fire fighting, and emergency medical duties.

It may seem a bother to many people to park farther away in a parking lot, but emergency response vehicles arrive and become operational on the scene very quickly. People who park in fire lanes would probably have a different perspective if they ever had to move 150 feet of fire hose around someone’s car to put out a fire or if they ever had to carry a severely ill or injured person to an ambulance over a long distance. Every step, every car or truck in the way makes a difference in the efficiency of fire and life safety.

The typical scenario is an automobile pulling into a fire lane and either dropping off a passenger or picking up a passenger. That is OK! We understand dropping people off or picking people up. However, you CANNOT remain parked in the fire lane waiting for a person to return to your vehicle. Simply move your vehicle to the parking lot and wait there. When you see your passenger come back outside from the building they were in, you may return to the building, pick them up, and drive away.

Remember that it is illegal to park in a fire lane under Rhode Island General Laws. In addition, it is defined in Smithfield Town Ordinances that “Parking of motor vehicles within any portion of a fire lane or otherwise obstructing a fire lane shall be prohibited at all times”. Violation of this ordinance may result in a monetary fine.

Therefore, for your safety, for the safety of your family and for the safety of your fellow citizens, please do not park in a fire lane.