Drivers warned to steer clear of fire hydrants
Stansted fire crews are urging villagers to avoid parking over fire hydrants.
Blocking access to the water source could waste vital minutes in the event of a serious fire and even endanger life, said crew manager Dave Morland.
"People either don't realise what they are or don't care and this has been a problem for several years, particularly in the Forest Hall Park area," he said.
"It would depend on the severity of the incident as to whether we could move a car off of a hydrant, but some cars are just too big to move and so we have to use the next nearest hydrant, which costs us time and resources.
"There are 350 gallons on the engine which gives us about 10-15 minutes of water depending on the rate we use it, but if it's a big fire and we need more water we have to go searching for it," he added.
Crews use an on board system which locates and lists all the nearest available hydrants, which are clearly marked on the ground with yellow painted covers and with street signage showing the letter 'H' on a yellow square, usually posted higher up on street furniture, such as a lamppost.
Mr Morland said it was a county-wide problem and people need educating about the risks. Stansted's firefighters often left leaflets on car windscreens urging drivers to keep the water access points clear.
"People will say that they have no-where to park as we are inundated with holiday parkers as well, but we need people to be aware of this problem. Education is the key."
Essex County Fire & Rescue Service said there were approximately 33,000 fire hydrants throughout the county. It was illegal to obstruct them and anyone found to be parking over or near one could be convicted and fined.