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How Close Can You Park to a Fire Hydrant?

a red fire hydrant by the street

The laws regarding parking near a fire hydrant vary from state to state. Plus, there are other variables you have to consider too, like where the fire hydrant is. Parking near a fire hydrant in the city is very different than parking next to one that is in front of your home. In the latter case, these laws may not even apply (though they can in some areas).

Therefore, the only way to know for sure what your local laws are is to ask. Some areas do not even have laws regarding how close you can part to a fire hydrant. However, in other areas with laws, it varies. Often, it is around 3 feet. However, in other cases, it is closer to 15 feet. If you get any closer, you may obstruct firefighters and get fined.

A fire does not have to occur for you to get a ticket for parking near a fire hydrant. Usually, a police officer can hand you a ticket if you park there for any length of time. However, if you’re staying with your car, then a ticket may be averted. (You’ll likely be asked to move, though.)

Generally, a good rule of thumb is to park your car at least another car length away from the fire hydrant. This will give the firefighter room to maneuver the hose should a fire occur. Plus, it meets the upper end of the legal range at around 15 feet.

car and road divider

Does the Color of the Fire Hydrant Matter?

No. You’ll find fire hydrants in all different colors, but that doesn’t change this law. You still cannot park within 15 feet of the fire hydrant in some areas, though you may be able to park as close as 3 feet in others. It depends on your state laws.

Either way, the color of the fire hydrant doesn’t change its function, so the law remains the same.

Furthermore, the markings or color of the road or sidewalk next to the fire hydrant do not matter, either. Sometimes, the area around the hydrant will be marked to make it more obvious. Even if the area isn’t marked, it is still illegal to park close to a fire hydrant in most areas.

red fire hydrant on grass
Image Credit: Mikes-Photography, Pixabay

What Happens if You Park in Front of a Fire Hydrant?

If you park in front of a fire hydrant, you may go unnoticed by authorities, but a police officer coming through can also give you a ticket. In some cases, your car may be towed. It depends on the area and its policies. Bigger cities are usually stricter about this behavior, as you’re far more likely to park next to a fire hydrant in a city than in a rural area.

However, if a fire occurs, the damage to your car can be severe. Firefighters and other personnel are allowed to tow your car in the event of a fire, but there is usually not enough time. Instead, police often smash the car’s windows, which allows firefighters to maneuver the hose through your car. In this process, the inside of your car is likely to get wet.

Plus, depending on where the fire truck is located, your car could get damaged in other ways. It simply isn’t worth the parking space in the event of a fire. In many cases, your insurance will not cover these damages, either.

Expectations

Of course, there are some expectations to this rule. Usually, a driver sitting in the car can stop their car in front of a fire hydrant. However, they must be able to move the car quickly in the event of a fire. You cannot leave your car even for a second, but you can stop for a moment beside a fire hydrant to pick up passengers or check a map.

Furthermore, many laws state that there must be a driver in the vehicle. Therefore, technically, having someone stay in the passenger seat does not count. However, tickets are rare in this case, especially if the passenger could move the car in an emergency.

Usually, unloading and loading passengers are allowed. Of course, this must only take a minute or two. If you’re a delivery driver, you cannot leave the vehicle to drop off deliveries, despite the fact that this counts as unloading. You must stay with the vehicle at all times.

When parking near a hydrant, be sure to check for signs nearby. Occasionally, you may see a sign to verify how far away you can park. However, in a congested area and under special circumstances, the distance may be different. Therefore, always check. Posted signage will overrule any laws in your area.

Be sure to check for close signs as well. In many areas, you can get ticketed for regulations on a sign that is up to half a mile away. Therefore, if you spot a sign discussing fire hydrants just down the road, follow its directions to avoid a ticket.

yellow fire hydrant
Image Credit: debannja, Pixabay

Are Fire Hydrant Parking Rules the Same in All Cities?

No. There are no federal laws that handle how close you can park to fire hydrants. Therefore, it is up to each state to pass laws as they see fit. In some cases, states do not pass laws handling this at all. Instead, they allow local cities and governing bodies to pass their own laws.

You’ll need to carefully look up your local laws for an exact distance. Usually, this is around 15 feet but it can vary. The fines vary considerably, as well. In some areas, you may get fined for as much as $100. However, in others, the punishment is much more severe. It may even count towards points on your license.

Can I Park Across the Street from a Fire Hydrant?

In many cases, yes. The usual distance required between a parked car and a fire hydrant is 15 feet. Therefore, across the road should be plenty far enough away. For reference, that’s about the length of a sedan. Roads are usually plenty long enough for you to park across the street.

However, do check for any signage nearby. Sometimes, there may be additional rules and regulations governing that exact fire hydrant, and these should be posted on signs nearby.

car and road divider

Conclusion

There are laws against parking next to fire hydrants, however, the exact law will vary from area to area, as this is more of a local issue. For this reason, you’ll need to become familiar with your local laws to determine exactly how far away you need to park. It varies widely, though laws typically don’t go higher than 15 feet away, which is the length of a sedan.

Parking next to a fire hydrant is commonly illegal. If an officer spots you parking next to one, you’ll likely be given a fine. However, in some areas, they may decide to tow your car instead. Should a fire occur, firefighters are allowed to break your windows to access the fire hydrant. Therefore, we highly recommend parking at least 15 feet away, which provides enough room for them to maneuver the hose around your car.


Featured Image Credit: FOTEROS, Pixabay

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