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Fire safety Park Smart campaign 14 September 2009

PARKED cars that impede emergency access to property have prompted the Island’s first Park Smart campaign.

Park Smart launchLaunched by the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service today (September 14, 2009), Park Smart aims to highlight problems resulting from inconsiderate, as well as illegal, parking.

Fire crews recently attended a house fire where fire appliances could not get near to the property involved due to parked vehicles. The Park Smart campaign is designed to make people think about how and where they park their car.

Station Officer Carl Kinvig explained:

‘Vehicles that sometimes block emergency access are not always illegally parked, and they might have left enough room for a car to get past, but of course a fire appliance or ambulance is considerably bigger. We want people to consider the implications of where they leave their vehicle – it might be their property that emergency crews have problems reaching!’

Sub Officer Chris Halsall, who is watch commander of White Watch, is all too familiar with the problem. He said:

‘There is nothing more exasperating than being prevented from doing your job by something as easily avoidable as parked cars blocking your route. Ultimately lives can be put in danger.’

Sub Officer Peter Killey, who is a member of the risk reduction team, added:

‘The campaign has come about as a result of partnership working, in particular with the Douglas Community Safety Partnership, to address incidents that have occurred in Douglas. However, the problem isn’t just associated with Douglas, but is an Island wide problem.’

Park Smart posterConsequently the Park Smart campaign will be run Island wide. Risk reduction officers will be distributing posters and leaflets to highlight the potential problems of poor parking. The campaign has the support of the Department of Home Affairs and local police.

Political Member with responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service, George Waft MLC, commented:

‘Parking considerately is something that most people do most of the time but problems with vehicles parking too close to others are all too common. This campaign will hopefully raise it in people’s consciousness with the aim of reducing the number of problems experienced by fire crews and other emergency response vehicles. You could save a life by giving a little more consideration to how you park.’

Sergeant Dave Dobbie of the Roads Policing Unit said:

‘The Police support this campaign and echo the comments made by the Fire Service in relation to the parking issues. As far as the Police are concerned, if we observe, or are called to an area where the vehicles are causing an issue as described, it is likely that the vehicle’s owner will receive a fixed penalty for a parking offence – that carries a £40 fine. In extreme cases, they could be put through the court process for causing an unnecessary obstruction of the highway, and fined up to £1,000.’

Carl Kinvig added:

‘In the most recent incident, where a fire appliance had to stop at the end of a road because of parked vehicles, firefighters had to carry their hose reels and breathing apparatus about 100 yards before they could start tackling the house fire. That obviously has implications in the event of a life threatening incident. All we are asking people to do, when they park their car and get out, is just take a second to have a look and think could an emergency vehicle get through? If not, park somewhere else.’

As well as distributing posters and leaflets to raise pubic awareness, crews will also carry leaflets in their appliances, which they will leave on parked vehicles that they come across which could potentially cause access problems.

Officer Kinvig points out that fire appliances are 2.4metres wide – meaning a minimum of three metres between parked vehicles is required for emergency vehicle access. He urges motorists to think carefully about parking and most of all to Park Smart.

Anyone requiring fire safety advice can contact the Fire Service community safety risk reduction team or go to the website www.iomfire.com. Anyone who is concerned about parking issues in their area is also welcome to contact the team, telephone 647303 or email cs@gov.im.

Anyone who is concerned about parking issues in their area is also welcome to contact the team, telephone 647303 or email cs@gov.im.

Photo caption: The IoM Fire and Rescue Service Park Smart campaign launched earlier today by (L-R) Department of Home Affairs Political Member Bill Malarkey MHK, Station Officer Carl Kinvig, Watch Commander Chris Halsall and Chief Fire Officer Brian Draper.

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