How Far can you Park from a Fire Hydrant?

Most drivers in Perth WA are aware that they are likely to encounter a number of safety bollards on their journey around towns and cities. However, one type of bollard that often confuses drivers is the fire hydrant. Although technically not a bollard, hydrants do look like many models of permanent bollards, but if you park in front of one, you could be left with a hefty fine. So, here we will explore what a fire hydrant actually is and how you can identify one to avoid those costly parking fines.

What exactly is a fire hydrant?

A fire hydrant is a point where a firefighter can tap into the main water supply to gain fast, pressurised, and strategic access to water to fight a fire in the immediate vicinity. Fire hydrants are located throughout the CBD, in schools, public buildings, and other key locations to protect against fire. Being such an important water source, fire hydrant parking laws are in place to protect the structures themselves but also access to these vital supply lines.

Car Parking in front of Fire Hydrant

The Extent of the Problem

Parking in front of a fire hydrant is a common issue in Western Australia, but it is also a nationwide problem. The main difficulty is in how fire hydrants are marked, as to the unsuspecting, they can simply appear to be ordinary bollards. Perth drivers are likely to encounter hydrant points throughout the metropolitan area, but parking in front of a hydrant is considered an obstruction.

Hydrant or Bollard? How to tell 

First up, it’s good to know what is what when it comes to identifying and avoiding fire hydrants in and around the city.

Most fire hydrant points are embedded into public roads, and they have a plug cover that is approximately 20 x 20 centimetres. Unfortunately, most hydrant points are almost invisible to motorists unless you are looking very carefully.

The authorities have a practice of marking the roadway adjacent to a hydrant with an “H” painted in white. They further mark the kerb with a blob of white paint. Unfortunately, if you’re unfamiliar with this particular parking sign, it can appear that the road has been marked in preparation for roadway repair and you could end up with a nasty parking ticket.

Room for Improvement

In Western Australia, the issue appears to be that the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and the subcontracted municipal councils don’t appear to have a published code relating to the identification of hydrants. This means that driving code handbooks also fail to indicate what actually constitutes fire hydrant markings or parking sign.

So, while locals familiar with the area are likely to be aware of the situation, if you’re new to Perth or travel a lot, it can be very confusing.

How far can you park from a fire hydrant?

Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) sets out the fire hydrant parking laws. Regulation 163 (1) states that drivers cannot stop their vehicle so that any part of the vehicle is within a metre of a fireplug, fire hydrant, or any mark or signage denoting a hydrant. If the matter is dealt with by a parking ticket, the penalty is one penalty unit or a $50 fine. If the matter goes to court, you could find yourself facing a $1200 fine or a maximum of 24 penalty units.

What does the fire brigade have to say about this?

Naturally, if the fire brigade needs to access a hydrant, they could be doing this under emergency circumstances. Imagine a building is going up in flames and there’s a car directly in front of the hydrant completely obstructing access to the pipes. 

If the fire brigade is obstructed in gaining access to a vital water supply, this could become a life-threatening situation, or result in severe property damage. 

Can Firemen break your windows if you park in front of a fire hydrant?

Yes. Firemen have every right to smash your car windows to gain access to a fire hydrant. When it comes to protecting property, lives, and the safety of the public, your car windows simply don’t stand a chance if they’re in the way.

And it’s not unheard of that firemen have done this. It’s therefore extremely important to observe the rules, even if you’re just stopping for a takeaway coffee. 

Other parking laws you might want to get accustomed to

In a city like Perth where cars are king, it’s important to get to know some of the other parking rules that could get you into trouble. Here are some common parking rules that often go ignored:

Pulling out of a parallel parking or angle parking area?

Remember to indicate for 5 seconds before you actually start moving out into traffic. It’s illegal if you don’t. Road users often forget this rule and indicate it as they pull out.

Want to park in your own driveway?

Don’t. It’s infuriating, yes, but as the law says you can’t park in someone else’s driveway (because you’ll block access to their property) a ranger or police officer doesn’t know if it’s your car or someone else and will issue a fine regardless. Stick to the verge or inside your property. 

Want to park 3 metres away from a letterbox? 

This could land you in as much trouble as parking in front of a hydrant. Keep clear of these to avoid a fine. 

Want to park near a bus zone? 

Check your distance. Road users should be more than 20 metres away from the approach side of the bus stop or lane. Check that you’re safely outside the bus zone before turning off the ignition.

Summary

So, if you’re driving in the Perth area, you need to be on the alert for fire hydrants. Fire hydrants typically resemble a bollard with an upright pipe that has a nozzle, spout, or another type of outlet, but this may be hidden under a cap. So, keep on the lookout and if you find a great parking spot, be sure to check for a hydrant before you walk away from your vehicle.

If you would like to find out more about bollards, Perth consumers should speak to us. As Perth’s premium security bollards supplier, we offer a wide choice of bollards and barriers including safety bollards. The Image Extra team is on hand to answer any queries.