If the only parking spot you can find is in front of a fire hydrant, continue looking, a visiting motorist learned the hard way.
When a fire broke out in the home of a 96-year-old woman on 826 Revere Avenue, a Volvo with NJ plates, was blocking the hydrant directly across the street, on Wednesday, February 28.
While neighbors urged the first responders to “just break its windows,” FDNY members said that “we try not to do that unless we really have to.”
The FDNY first tried to thread the hose under the car, but it became pinched by the Volvo’s rear tire, cutting off the water pressure.
The second attempt to hook up the fire hose was successful when the FDNY members climbed atop the car, and fed the hose over the car’s sunroof, inadvertently shattering it to pieces in the process.
Meanwhile, the house continued to burn, and the elderly woman inside suffered injuries along with two fire fighters.
“Seconds matter in these situations, any delay increases the risk of safety for everyone,” said an FDNY spokesperson. “At the scene of a fire, three engines are responsible for finding the nearest hydrants and prepping them for use,” he added.
Even if a parked car doesn’t seem to be in harm’s way, parking in front of a hydrant can be detrimental to the FDNY’s operation.
“It went from smoke to flames shooting out the window in about a minute, and firefighters are playing with a stupid car blocking the hydrant,” said Mike Matwijiw, who lives across from the house that was engulfed.
While watching the house go up in flames, the Volvo’s owner claimed ‘his sister was told’ the hydrant he parked in front of wasn’t in use.
One neighbor across the street responded “I’ll go get a shovel because you’re full of it.”
About 20 minutes before the blaze, his car was ticketed for being parked illegally.
The car owner, in a display of hubris, was overheard threatening to sue the city for the damage his vehicle sustained.
Matwijiw’s home, only a block from the 45th Precinct, is directly in front of a fire hydrant.
He said this has always been a problem on his block during the 47 years he has lived there.
“I’ve seen three hydrants in a row blocked on this street at once at times,” he said.
Days after the fire, Matwijiw continued to see various cars park in front of the hydrant by his house.
Some cars remain all night.
He expressed frustration with the cars routinely disregarding the 15-foot hydrant law, especially for long periods of time.
“I had been saying for years, if a hydrant is blocked five or six days a week then it’s that much more likely it will be blocked during an actual fire, and look what happened,” said Matwijiw.
The same night as the Revere Avenue fire, the FDNY in the west Bronx faced the same dilemma, having to run a hose line over a car parked that was blocking the fire hydrant.
The issue was discussed at the NYPD’s 45th Precinct Community Council meeting on Thursday, March 1.
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