Fire chiefs have launched a campaign after an increasing number of drivers have delayed fire engines getting to incidents.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has launched the #INeedMySpace campaign in an attempt to stop drivers blocking off roads and stopping on box junctions outside fire stations.
Firefighters have also highlighted that some drivers are not sure what to do when they hear emergency sirens. Some slam their brakes on immediately and risk causing a collision while others try to tailgate behind the vehicle which can cause a crash – particularly if more than one engine has been deployed.
The service says some people are pulling up outside stations to do the school run or cutting through the service’s Eastleigh headquarters to avoid traffic lights. One fire station recently had several appliances blocked in when a coach parked outside bay doors so passengers could have a cigarette.
On another occasion crews were obstructed when a motorist left his car outside the building while he went for a kebab.
Assistant Chief Officer Andy Bowers said: “The issue of motorists blocking the paths of emergency services vehicles is worse than ever before.
“Some drivers are parking opposite one another making an entire road inaccessible while others are actually stopping by station exits, often in the hatched areas, and some are even leaving their cars on our grounds.
“On the road we have to deal with motorists who are unsure what to do to allow emergency vehicles to pass, and often slam on their brakes the minute they hear the siren, as well as people who try and tailgate when we have gone past.
“Everyone should make sure that they know what to do for emergency vehicles, and ensure that their actions do not slow our vehicles down.
“Please also remember that although you may only hear one siren, there may regularly be more than one emergency vehicle responding.
“These issues are causing delays and when tackling a fire or cutting somebody out of a car this can be the difference between life and death.”
The service offers the following guidance for motorists on how best to help emergency services get to incidents:
CALM: Don’t panic or speed up in an attempt to get out of the way. Don’t go through red lights or veer into a bus lane as you will still be prosecuted. Do not attempt to outrun a fire engine. You are not allowed to drive down the hard shoulder. You will still be breaking the law.
ALERT: Turn distracting music down and check mirrors to help determine the direction and number of emergency vehicles. Look for somewhere safe to pull in but avoid kerbs, pavements, bends and junctions. Watch out for other motorists braking suddenly.
RESPONSE: Indicate, check your mirror and move to the left when it is safe to do so. Wait patiently to ensure all emergency vehicles have gone and then safely move back out into traffic.
In addition to these guidelines the public are urged to give a stationary emergency service vehicle a wide berth when moving around it.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has produced the following video to promote the #INeedMySpace campaign.