If you live in a big city and just park any kind of way or think you can park where you want, you could be potentially endangering someone’s life. On November 24th in Manhattan, some idiot thought it was a good idea to park his BMW 5 Series in front of a fire hydrant. And as luck would have it, a fire broke out. And firefighters did what they had to do to put the fire out by running the hose through his car.
First I should point out that unfortunately, people parking in front of fire hydrants and then fires breaking out, causing firefighters to have trouble reaching said hydrant, is more common than you would think. You shouldn’t do it because things like this can happen:
In the event of a fire, blocking hydrant access can be one of the dumbest things someone can do.
But idiots in cities from Boston to Sacramento get their windows smashed out because they choose to block a hydrant. As Anaheim, California fire department Sgt. Daron Wyatt put it when a fire broke out in a residential building and a car was parked in front of a hydrant:
Most people think they can park in front of a fire hydrant and nothing’s gonna happen, and in a lot of times that’s true,” Sgt. Daron Wyatt said. “But we do have instances where there is an actual fire. We just wanted to illustrate and educate. We had a few people that really questioned why we didn’t put the hose underneath the car or around the car or over the car. We wanted to demonstrate to those people that it just isn’t feasible to do that. It reduced the flow of the water because of the kink in the hose.
It comes down to water flow. The hose needs to go directly from the hydrant to the fire. Anything other than a straight hose and a kink could form, reducing water flow and impeding the ability to fight the fire.
I was informed that this instance in Manhattan didn’t require the windows to be broken. It looks as if the windows to the car may have already been down and the hose was just run through the car. Quickly, firefighters were able to put the five-alarm fire out, but it could have been way worse. In social media posts of the incident, the department reminded New York drivers that it’s illegal to park within 15 feet of a hydrant. But reading the comments, it would seem that this kind of thing happens all the time.
Wanting to get the proper protocol when someone decides to be dumb and park that way, I reached out to the New York Fire Departments’ deputy commissioner on external affairs and public info. I asked him what’s done in instances like this and if vehicle windows are usually broken. His answer told me everything I needed to know.
It is extremely dangerous for anyone to park on a hydrant as it needlessly puts the lives of residents and firefighters at risk.
This creates a delay in getting water on the fire as Firefighters work to navigate the hoseline around the vehicle - not through it.
So there you have it. Do not park in front of a fire hydrant. They will break your windows with no hesitation. And you’ll end up on the hook for both a ticket and the cost of getting your windows repaired.