It happened again today. Someone came to my door to do a little maintenance work, and his truck was parked in front of the fire hydrant. I had to politely ask him to move his truck. Luckily, this gentleman didn’t get rude or nasty. He just turned around, looked at his truck, saw it was directly in front of the hydrant and moved it. I’m not usually so lucky. The normal reaction from visitors and neighbors of my little community is one of hateful, ugly name calling and verbal abuse. How DARE I insist that people move their vehicles away from the fire hydrant? Nothing’s going to happen anyway….
Well friends, if we believe this why do we pay for costly home, health, life or car insurance?? What is so hard about parking a few feet away and walking a few extra steps to your destination? Have we suddenly lost our collective minds? I’m missing something here.
This is common sense to me. Never mind that my reasons are these: it takes 3.5 minutes for an average home to burn to ashes to the ground, taking away memories, valuable belongings and the stuff our lives are made of. The fire hydrant is our insurance against fire. Staying away from it could save your life and mine as well as our properties. The emotional and mental price of losing all your belongings is enormous. Oh, and did I forget to mention that it is illegal to park 15 feet on either side of the hydrant? There could be some costly tickets and fines for getting caught…
I have asked my homeowners’ association to paint the curbs and mark the illegal zone, and they’ve told me it’s the city’s responsibility. I’ve called police and fire, who’ve both told me it’s the homeowners’ association’s responsibility and they’re fully within their rights to paint the curbs. I shudder to think of the increase in cost of our insurance premiums should there ever be a fire in this complex. The premiums are part of our monthly homeowners’ fees, so all of us will pay the price of a fire here.
These are all important reasons, but my bigger concern is the ethics of this situation. There is a blatant disrespect and disregard for “doing the right thing.” If it’s not convenient it doesn’t apply. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission – haven’t we all heard that a few times? Well in a worst case scenario, asking for forgiveness might mean apologizing for killing someone by doing something entirely preventable – keeping the fire hydrant clear. The extra time taken by the fire truck to move that car away from the fire hydrant could mean the difference between saving or losing the people, the house and the contents. Somehow I don’t think that a mere apology would be nearly enough, do you?
There’s also a complete and total lack of accountability. Nobody is accepting responsibility. Every single person who parks in front of a fire hydrant is risking their own lives, as well as the lives of property owners, visitors and the citizens in the community. The homeowners’ association has refused to do something completely within their power and inexpensive to do. And this is too small an item on the local government totem pole to even bother with. Oh, but I forgot; it’ll never happen to us, right???
So who is responsible? And who should be accountable? All of us – so the next time you see a fire hydrant, please stay away from it! There! I’ve completed my responsibility for today.