MANHATTAN — Moving trucks are putting lives at risk by chronically blocking the exit of a Murray Hill firehouse, according to the station's chief, who's calling on the community to take action.
Captain Adam Schwinn, the commander of Engine 21 on East 40th Street, appealed to Community Board Six this week to call for a push on better anti-parking measures and an end to obstruction near the firehouse that could mean the difference between life and death for those they serve.
There are two large apartment buildings across the street from the station between Tunnel Exit Street and Second Avenue, and with people moving in and out all the time trucks have become a common nuisance in the area.
When faced with trucks blocking the exit, fire engines resort to spending extra time maneuvering around them. They could also issue a summons, but that just eats up more time, Schwinn said.
“When I’m going out on a call I’m not going to stop and give a summons," he said. “I could be delayed by three minutes, and that could be the difference between saving people and a whole family being wiped out.”
Parking is already outlawed across the street from the firehouse, but drivers regularly flout the rules and attempt to park for a short period of time, Schwinn said.
CB6's transportation committee unanimously recommended that the full board adopt a resolution that would request that the Department of Transportation section off a 60-foot no-parking area across from the station to physically prevent movers from parking illegally.
The proposed resolution also asks that the firehouse be given control of the traffic lights on East 40th Street at Tunnel Exit Street by allowing them to change the lights using a button in the event of an emergency.
The station gained control of the traffic light at Second Avenue after the full board passed a similar resolution in 2008, but currently when a call comes in, it falls to a firefighter to dash out and manually block traffic at Tunnel Exit Street so that the way is clear, Schwinn said.
The 2008 resolution also resulted in increased no parking signage on the street, but without a physical barrier, the firefighters have to rely on non-stop enforcement to ensure engines can make it out of the station, Schwinn said.
The full board will vote on the new resolution at its monthly meeting on Nov. 18.