A SOCIAL media fire storm, ignited after frustrated firefighters posted pictures of a car left in a no-parking zone outside their station in Cricklade, has stung some drivers into walking their children to school.

The images went out on the station’s Facebook page when a Mercedes driver repeatedly refused to move her vehicle. After it was spotted by the Advertiser, the story spread as far as the nationals.

Crew manager Pete Price was delighted with the success of the post. Yesterday he said: “The reaction is outstanding. We never expected to get quite so much public support.”

The station on Bath Road is opposite St Sampson’s Primary School and the congestion at dropping off and picking up time has been a problem for a while. Drivers habitually ignore the double yellow lines and hatched area, making it difficult for the fire engine to get out and answer emergencies.

Some have parked on the forecourt in spite of the no parking and no turning instructions. On occasion the crew have had to sound the sirens and horn to persuade them to get out of the way when a call comes in.

In October the Adver carried a story warning that illegal parking by drivers on the school run could cost a life.

Mr Price stressed: “The school has always been supportive of us and they regularly put in the parents’ newsletter about parking.”

But the situation had been getting progressively worse until yesterday. Some parents seemed to have taken it as a spur to take their children to school on foot.

“We have had four cars turn on the station forecourt this afternoon and that’s it,” he said. “Quite clearly, by the number of people that have walked here today as opposed to driven, it has had a massive impact.”

He explained the Mercedes driver was told several times by one of the crew that she was not allowed to park there, but refused point blank to move the car and said she did not want to walk a long way to collect her children.

“When she refused to move last Friday for one of my firefighters that was the last straw,” he said. “Within an hour of it going live I had my boss on the phone telling me it was going viral.”

Support for the firefighters from members of the public was widespread. “It’s a disgrace. They would soon moan if their house was on fire and you could not get there,” wrote Roger Baker on Facebook.

Others urged the fire crew to push offending vehicles out of the way in future. Mr Price said if they had got a shout on Friday he would have moved the Mercedes out of the way with his own vehicle so the fire engine could get through.

Since the post Royal Wootton Bassett and Cricklade Police have promised action. But Mr Price said: “Until people actually start receiving tickets this is going to go on and on. Otherwise it will take someone getting seriously injured.”

He added: “We will be monitoring it very closely over the next few weeks.”