Now that summer is over and students have returned to the classroom motorists in Midlothian need to be aware that their vehicle might ticketed or towed if they park in a fire lane. Enforcement has been stepped up in order to keep fire lanes clear and available for emergency vehicles to park in when responding to a call.

“Over the years we have had an increasing problem with people parking in fire lanes particularly at the schools. The vehicles can and have caused delays in emergency response. Success in our line of work is measured in minutes and seconds, and every second counts when someone needs help,” Midlothian Fire Department Fire Marshal Kevin Lucia said. “To date, we have been issuing warnings to unattended vehicles or asking people to move their vehicle parked in fire lanes. In May, I notified Midlothian Independent School District staff of the problem and told them we would begin enforcing fire lane violations with citations and towing unattended vehicles parked in fire lanes for the 2013-14 school year.”

Lucia said in addition to obstructing and delaying emergency services, unattended vehicles parked in fire lanes are violating city ordinance, Texas Traffic Code and the International Fire Code. A citation for this violation is about $200.

Enforcement of fire lane violations does not include when parents are dropping off or picking up their children from schools. It also does not pertain to vehicles that are attended and can be readily moved or if vehicles are parked in designated parking spaces or areas adjacent to the fire line. Members of the school staff and maintenance personnel who park in a fire lane are also subject to being ticketed or towed.

Fire lanes in front of a building are marked with two painted red lines on the curb or on the pavement with the words “fire lane no parking” or “fire lane tow away zone.”

The goal of the stepped up enforcement of fire lane violations is to increase safety for first responders responding to a call and provide the best assistance possible. This effort to increase safety has been communicated to the Midlothian Police Department. Ordinary firefighters will not be issuing tickets or having vehicles towed.

“It is imperative fire lanes at businesses, churches, schools and other facilities stay clear and accessible for emergency vehicles at all times. This will let us respond to emergencies and calls for assistance without delay,” Lucia said. “We would like to communicate the importance of this to our community for their safety.”

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