Firefighters had to get out of their trucks and go to calls on foot in fall 2003.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- Trustee Elaine Mancini says a proposed parking ban on 160 township streets is a matter of safety.
At a trustees' meeting last week, Mancini referred to the National Fire Protection Association codes which she said required 10 feet of road width for firetrucks to navigate a street.
NFPA codes are guidelines adopted by 17 states. Ohio isn't one of them, however.
"It's not like it's something that we made up," Mancini said.
Many township streets, both in old and newer neighborhoods, are narrow, which can make driving a firetruck or snow plow along them difficult when cars are parked on one or both sides.
"It's a safety issue," Mancini said.
Martha Curtis of the NFPA, based in Massachusetts, said the code calls for a 20-foot width for a fire department access road, or a road firefighters need to set up their equipment.
The problem came to light in fall 2003 when fire crews responding to medical calls on both Shadyside and Beechwood drives couldn't get the trucks to the site of the call because of cars parked on those streets, Mancini said.
Firefighters had to get out of the truck, unload the medical equipment, and travel the rest of the distance to the houses on foot, said Fire Chief James Dorman.
In both situations, firefighters got to the ill person in time to assist, but the situations could have brought a less favorable end.
"A few extra seconds can really make a difference," Dorman said.
That's true for fire calls, too.
"In the case of a fire, if we can't get our truck up the street, we're out of business," the chief said.
Trustees considered addressing the problem last summer, but heavy rain and flooding hit, diverting their attention there, Mancini said.
"We now have a responsibility to address that issue and we have to do it," she said.
Trustees conducted hearings earlier this year on 19 streets that had been documented for difficulty with navigability. The hearings followed surveys sent to 1,100 residents of those streets asking their views on parking. Only 40 replied, township officials have said.
Most at the hearings supported banning on-street parking, citing concerns for children's safety and difficulty backing their cars out of their driveways.
Trustees then decided that streets 22 feet wide and more narrow would be designated for the restriction. That includes about 160 streets.
Trustee Kathy Miller has said she opposes the ban because of the expense of erecting signs and because she doesn't believe it's appropriate to conduct hearings on 19 streets and then ban parking on 160.
Trustees will meet at 6 p.m. July 6 to vote on whether to institute the ban. If approved, the ban would become effective Aug. 6, but it couldn't be enforced until signs were posted informing people of the restriction.