DRIVERS are being targeted in a new campaign by the fire service to highlight their difficulties in accessing emergencies due to badly-parked cars.

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service are asking drivers ‘Are we getting through?’ as they launch their new campaign this week.

The service hopes to emphasise that when responding to a 999 call, every second that the emergency services are delayed could have serious, life-threatening consequences.

The smallest fire engine needs a minimum of three metres, or the width of two cars, to pass safely but when cars block roads and corners, firefighters face having to make difficult decisions about how to get through.

In Swindon, problematic areas for the service include Tadpole Farm, North Swindon, Okus, Even Swindon and parts of Old Town

Crew manager Terry Crawford at Swindon Fire Station in Drove Road said: “We want this campaign to be something that people bear in mind and try to park with enough space so not having the front of their vehicle pointed out and to be considerate of what is around them especially when parking on a tight bend.

“Not being able to pass does happen from time to time and you do have to make a decision of whether you can leave the fire engine and grab the equipment and go or whether you alert people you are there.

“What tends to happen is that when we can’t get through, we have to make a bit of noise with our sirens on to wake people up and see we can’t pass. It all depends on the type of incident to the action that we take. Otherwise we may have to force our way through which is a last resort.

“We can’t be sitting around if there is a burning building.”

One particular area of concern for firefighters is parking on roads near schools, as these are often difficult to pass through safely, especially when cars are dropping off or picking up children.

Poor or inconsiderate parking can also affect high streets and the roads by fire stations where on-call firefighters have to be at their station within five minutes of their pagers going off.

Terry added: “We know our best route and that we can get there quick enough but that is bearing in mind that we try to use the roads most suited to our vehicles. You do Plan A and it is when you can’t get through that you have to think of Plan B.

“It is only when people see us having problems getting through that it hits home but we have had to leaflet cars before now which we don’t like to do.

“There are different addresses we know will be trouble. Quite often we go to sheltered housing and there are certain ones where we know it will take a longer time to get down the road. It is the new build areas as well because the roads are getting smaller but the number of cars is getting bigger and we still need to be able to manoeuvre our way around.

“All we ask for is that people park with due care and consideration.”

The service has now issued the following advice to people:

• When parked, pull in your wing mirrors (don’t forget to flip them out before driving off).

• Don’t park too close to corners - fire engines are larger than cars and need more room to turn.

• If you’re parking opposite someone, remember that a fire engine needs three metres, or two car widths, to pass safely.

• Make sure your wheels are straight and are not sticking out.

• Park as close to the kerb as you can.

• Always follow the Highway Code and obey road markings such as yellow lines and box junctions.

• In narrow streets, only park on one side of the road where possible.

• Make sure you leave enough space for pedestrians on the pavement.

• Don’t block driveways.