How many times have you driven to a local shopping area and found a car parked in the fire lane? “NO PARKING –  FIRE LANE” means just that. Not even for a minute, as that is all the time needed for an emergency to occur. 

Whenever there is a fire or related emergency, police, fire and ambulances need to have proper access so that the vehicles can get close enough to the buildings for rescue, firefighting and medical response.

By parking in that lane, drivers are preventing emergency response vehicles from being able to gain access in a timely manner.

Imagine what could happen if your loved one is having a medical emergency inside that store or restaurant, but the paramedics aren’t able to get in because someone parked in the fire lane “just for a minute.”

The person who parks in that space is now responsible for that parking infraction and also for the delay in medical care given to the person inside.

Leaving your vehicle unattended in a fire lane could hinder emergency efforts and will leave you open to a fine. It is against the law to park in a fire lane if you are not an emergency vehicle.

Also consider that if you park there (or sit and wait), others will think it is acceptable to park there and follow your lead. It might seem like a bother to park farther away, but do it anyway.

When emergency vehicles arrive, personnel become operational very quickly on a scene. If you had to move 150 feet of fire hose around someone’s car or carry a severely injured patient around a car to an ambulance, it might just change your perspective. Every extra step taken, every vehicle in the way, makes a difference in the effectiveness of fire and life safety.

Where fire lanes are located, they are needed and must be available. Parking there illegally could cost more than a fine – it could cost someone’s life.

Do everyone a favor and leave the fire lanes for emergency vehicles – it’s for your own protection and those you love.

Cinda Seamon is the fire and life safety educator for Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue.