Nova Scotia

Windows smashed, ticket issued as parking job interferes with firefighters

Halifax firefighters had to break a car's windows to gain access to a hydrant, and then thread a hose across the back seats, after fire broke out in a strip mall in the city's south end.

'A couple of broken windows is a small price to pay for the life safety of firefighters'

Halifax firefighters said they had no choice but to put a hose through a car blocking a hydrant, after a fire broke out on Green Street in Halifax. (Vaughn Love )

Smashed windows, a thick water hose, and a ticket greeted a Subaru driver Monday evening after they illegally parked in front of a fire hydrant on Green Street in Halifax's south end.

Firefighters had to break the car's windows to gain access to a hydrant, and then thread a hose across the back seats, after fire broke out in a strip mall, according to assistant fire chief Chuck Bezanson, with Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency.

"A couple of broken windows is a small price to pay for the life, safety, of firefighters inside of a building," he said.   

The fire started in the basement of a U-haul office after 5 p.m., after all the workers were gone home for the day.

When firefighters arrived they needed to access the hydrant behind the Subaru, said Bezanson. Fire crews first tried to run the hose under the vehicle, but that didn't work.

"The only other option was to go through the car," said Bezanson. "Going over the car would have totally destroyed the outside, just the weight of the hose would have crushed everything."

The hose was in the car for about four hours. (Vaughn Love)

The fire was difficult to fight as the basement was so filled with stuff firefighters had trouble manoeuvring. 

They also had to battle intense summer heat that meant firefighters could only work for 30 or 40 minutes before they had to be relieved. The fire was extinguished after about four hours. 

But even after the fire was out, the image of the car with a hose in it kicked off a wave of social media posts. Some in favour of the firefighters' quick thinking.

While other posts supported the driver. 

Police ended up giving the Subaru driver a parking ticket, even though a municipal parking sign near the hydrant said it was alright to park there.

It is illegal to park within five metres of a fire hydrant, according to the Motor Vehicle Act.

"Provincial legislation is going to supercede that municipal bylaw sign, so it is still illegal to park in front of a fire hydrant," said Const. Amy Edwards with Halifax Regional Police.

"It comes down to public safety. You know, we have these rules and laws in place so that firefighters can get there and access the water that they need quickly to put out a fire. If they have to take extra time to work around vehicles or find owners that are blocking that water supply, it could endanger lives," she said. 

'We absolutely need our hydrants'

The driver will not face any extra fines because their vehicle was in the way during an emergency. 

"I think the larger amount is going to come from having the windows fixed in the vehicle as opposed to the actual ticket itself," said Edwards.

The driver can contest the ticket in court if they feel that it was given unfairly.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. 

Bezanson hopes people learn from this incident and stop parking illegally. 

"When you see a hydrant, your life or somebody else's may depend on that hydrant. Do not park in front of it, we absolutely need our hydrants."

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With files from Preston Mulligan

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