At least 11 drivers were given words of advice after an operation to highlight inappropriate parking near schools in Kettering.
On Friday (September 8) officers from the Kettering Neighbourhood Policing Team joined Red Watch from Kettering fire station to patrols streets around Millbrook junior and infant schools, in Churchill Way, and Barton Seagrave Primary School, off Belvior Drive.
Several cars were parked in such a way as to prevent access for the fire engine, which in an emergency situation would waste vital time. Others were parked on and even over junctions.
PC Michael Norman said: “This kind of parking is a risk to residents, to children who attend these schools, and as we’ve seen today, for emergency services who may be trying to respond to incidents.
“It’s all well and good doing these things and people apologising for their poor parking, but could they apologise to the parents of a child who is knocked down because of it, or people who have lost loved ones in a fire where a fire engine couldn’t get there in time?
“You might think it’s just bad parking, but it’s not – it could cost someone their life.
“It’s not acceptable and it won’t be tolerated.”
At least 11 drivers were given words of advice by officers and moved their vehicles, and a warning note was left on one inappropriately parked car.
Future patrols in the areas will see fixed penalty tickets issued where offences are identified.
The patrols were welcomed by residents and parents alike who cited regular problems with dangerous parking around the two schools.
Across the county, fire crews regularly carry out work to encourage safe and legal parking outside schools, both to promote road safety and ensure they have clear access in case of emergency.
Watch commander Raymond Smith, from Kettering Fire Station’s Red Watch, added: “Unfortunately, many drivers simply do not realise just how big a fire engine is.
“Our appliance is 2.4 metres wide and 8.2 metres long, which makes it extremely difficult to fit past double parked cars and cars that are parked on junctions.
“It can’t be stressed enough how the time it takes to fit past carelessly parked cars can affect the outcome of incidents we attend.
“Seconds really can mean the difference between life and death.
“We would ask drivers to think before they park.
“Folding wing mirrors in and ensuring the front wheels are not turned into the road all help.
“If it means having to walk a little further to the school gate so that a fire engine could pass, then that’s not too much to ask.
“It may sound like a cliché but it may well be their property we are trying to get to.”
As the new term gets fully under way, parents and carers are also being asked to consider how they can personally reduce congestion around schools.
Kamila Poole of the joint police, fire and highways’ Safer Roads Alliance said: “Ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to reduce the risk to children’s safety on the school run.
“Ideas to consider include car sharing, cycling or using alternative methods of transport, setting up a walking bus, or parking safely away from the school and walking the last part of the journey.
“It’s also vital that you teach your children how to be safe during the busy drop-off and pick-up times.”