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Buckhannon Fire Chief JB Kimble at the Consolidated Public Works Board's Jan. 23 meeting. (Photo by Monica Zalaznik)

City to establish new fire lane adjacent to Stockert Youth & Community Center

BUCKHANNON – The Consolidated Public Works Board voted to establish a new fire lane next to the Stockert Youth and Community Center.

Buckhannon Fire Chief JB Kimble attended the Jan. 23 Consolidated meeting to request the new fire lane because parked vehicles are making it difficult for some of the fire trucks to exit via Friendly Way.

Mayor Robbie Skinner broke down the situation for the board.

“There has become an issue at the northeast side of Friendly Way — folks are parking along that fence line on the vacant lot side of the street next to SYCC, and our ladder truck and our fire engines need to get out that way,” Skinner said. “They can’t get on the street when people park along the fence.”

Kimble said the problem typically occurs during large events at SYCC.

“People don’t like parking lots, and usually once the parking lot at SYCC gets full, they start parking in the street instead of utilizing the Public Safety Complex or the Jawbone parking area,” Kimble said. “There is a sign that says, ‘No Parking,’ [but] it’s not a fire lane and not an official city sign. Now, on the SYCC side of the sidewalk, everything’s painted red, but on the other side, there’s nothing to signify that that’s a fire lane.”

Kimble said since that section of the road is not designated a fire lane, they have no way to ask people not to park there and then enforce it.

“There was a car there yesterday parked within 15 feet of that fire hydrant, which is against state code, but without it being a fire lane that says, ‘No Parking,’ there’s nothing we can really do,” the fire chief said. “If somebody parks there, our ladder truck will drag them out into the street – that’s why that sign was put there, but people don’t pay attention to ‘No Parking’ signs anymore.”

Kimble said he could ask the police department to ask people to move their vehicles, but that would become tedious.

“I have to call the police department, and they have to walk over there and ask people to move their car, or it’s going to get towed, but why bother them?” Kimble said. “I can just walk over and say this is a fire lane if we paint it.”

Skinner agreed with Kimble and said they would need to speak with SYCC staff about angling their vehicles in the small parking lot across from the problem area.

“We need to have a discussion with Debora [Brockleman, SYCC executive director] because if they are going to park on the left-hand side, they need to angle their cars; they can’t stick out in the road and potentially block the fire trucks,” the mayor said.

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