Drive almost anywhere around town, and you’ll surely notice the ubiquitous fire hydrant standing proud at street corners or sidewalks. It’s essentially a source of water that people can tap into, and its standard purpose is for dousing a fire.
You cannot park in front of a fire hydrant because it’s dangerous and illegal. A parked car poses as an obstruction for firefighters in case of a fire, and parking too close to hydrants is against the law in most states. Your car may get towed or damaged, or you could get a ticket.
In this article, I’ll talk about why you shouldn’t park in front of a fire hydrant. I’ll cover the consequences of doing so, explain how close to a hydrant you can legally park, and explore if there are any exemptions to this rule. Let’s get right to it!
Why You Shouldn’t Park in Front of a Fire Hydrant
First and foremost, you shouldn’t park in front of a fire hydrant because it’s risky. Not just for you but for everyone else in the area.
A fire hydrant’s primary function is to provide a steady supply of water when there is a fire. They work by extracting water from underground pipelines and distribution systems, providing a strong and stable supply.
If you park too close to a fire hydrant and block firefighters’ access to vital water supply, it can come with unfortunate consequences to your vehicle. Firefighters aren’t held liable for any necessary actions taken to access a hydrant during a fire, and you cannot charge them for damages incurred on your vehicle. You’ll have to shoulder the cost of all damages, plus the fine for a parking violation ticket.
Furthermore, parking in front of a fire hydrant is illegal. Fire or no fire, authorities can issue an illegal parking ticket. A parking violation in the US may cost you at least $100, depending on which state or city you’re in. For instance, in New York City, a fire hydrant parking ticket will knock you back at least $115. While in Chicago, it’ll cost you $150, and $80 in California.
Vehicles Allowed to Park Beside a Fire Hydrant
There are only a handful of vehicles that can legally park in front of a fire hydrant. Ambulances and police cars, for instance, may park near hydrants if they are responding to an urgent situation. Emergency vehicles are exempted from parking rules and regulations.
If you find yourself in an emergency and there is no other place to park your vehicle except near a fire hydrant, you may do so. However, be prepared to contest your case should you find a parking violation ticket on your windshield. Equip yourself with pictures, videos, and proper documentation to defend your plight.
How Close to a Fire Hydrant Can You Park?
You can park as close as 15 feet away from a fire hydrant in the US. That’s about the length of a standard sedan. If a fire hydrant is nearby, be sure to park at least one car length away from it.
It may be difficult to estimate exactly where the 15-foot mark is, and bringing along a tape measure or ruler is unrealistic. Luckily, in today’s high-tech world, you can download an app on your smartphone to measure the distance between a fire hydrant and your car for you.
If needed, consider using measurement apps such as:
- Measure App
- Mapulator App
- Ruler App
- SizeUp App
- EasyMeasure App
- Measure Map App
- Measure Tools App
- AirMeasure App
These apps can inform you when you’ve parked too close to a hydrant so you can adjust your parking and maintain the 15-foot (4.6-meter) safe zone.
Can You Stop in Front of a Fire Hydrant?
You can stop in front of a fire hydrant as long as a licensed driver is seated in the driver’s seat. This is so the vehicle can be moved immediately should the need arise. The driver should move the vehicle when a fire truck approaches or when asked to do so by authorities.
Can You Park in Front of a Fire Hydrant if the Curb Isn’t Red?
You cannot park in front of a fire hydrant even if the curb isn’t painted red. Red curbs indicate a no-standing, stopping, and parking zone reserved for emergency vehicles only, like ambulances or fire trucks. If a fire hydrant is on an unpainted curb, you still cannot park in front of it.
Parking in Front of a Broken Fire Hydrant
You shouldn’t park in front of a fire hydrant if you think it’s broken. If you do, your vehicle could get towed, and you will risk being issued an illegal parking ticket. Besides, you may not be sure that a particular hydrant isn’t working since most cities prioritize repairs to minimize fire risks.
Why Are Fire Hydrants Painted Different Colors?
You may be curious as to why fire hydrants are painted differently. Some people may even think that certain hydrant colors indicate that you can park next to it. The truth is that you should never park in front of a fire hydrant, no matter what color it’s painted.
Fire hydrants are painted different colors to indicate the amount of water it can supply in gallons per minute or GPM. This is a great way for firefighters to gauge how much water flow they can expect from one particular hydrant.
Here are the different fire hydrant colors and what they mean:
- Blue: At least 1,500 GPM
- Green: 1,000 – 1,499 GPM
- Orange: 500 – 999 GPM
- Red: Less than 500 GPM
It’s unsafe and illegal to park in front of a fire hydrant. Parking less than 15 feet (4.6 meters) away from a hydrant can also earn you a parking ticket.
If you need to stop and next to a fire hydrant is the only space available, make sure the driver stays behind the wheel, ready to move the car at a moment’s notice. You may also park near a fire hydrant, but only as a last resort in an emergency.
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