DRIVERS have been warned to leave space for emergency vehicles after a fire engine was delayed in reaching a house fire because inconsiderate parking.

The crew from Bradford station were held up getting to the fire on Farmhill Road, Eccleshill, by around five minutes. The incident had led to an elderly man being hospitalised.

They had been responding to reports of a smoke alarm going off in the house at 8pm yesterday.

While travelling to the property, the crew’s route was blocked by a van parked on a residential street, leaving no space for the fire engine to pass. The crew had to park up and ask local residents who the van belonged to.

Another crew from the station had taken a different route to the property and managed to get there without incident.

When they arrived they found that a pan left unattended on a hob had led to the property becoming heavily smoke-logged. An elderly man living at the house was found collapsed on the floor, and was rushed to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Watch commander Simon Moore told the Telegraph & Argus: “We had to get out of the engine and park up. It took us a few minutes to get the van moved so we could move through the street.

“People park up and don’t think about whether other vehicles could get through.

“When we did arrive there, the house was full of smoke and one of the occupants had collapsed. We gave him first aid when we got there.

“It could have been much worse. It took us at least five minutes longer to get to the house than it should. Luckily the other engine were able to get there as they had taken a different route.”

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said: “It’s a problem that we encounter on a fairly frequent basis, particularly in more congested urban areas.

“Whilst we have every sympathy with people who want to park their car near to their home or business, the fact is that inconsiderate parking will, and does, delay our response to emergency incidents and could lead to tragedy and significant loss.

“A fire engine needs at least 2.5m clearance, this is at least one and half times the width of a small, family car”

Councillor Geoff Reid (Lib Dem, Eccleshill) said: “By the sounds of this it could have been much worse.

“There are a small number of drivers around our area who have a pretty cavalier attitude to double parking. Some people don’t think in terms of emergency vehicles getting past when they park their cars. Sometimes people don’t even seem to respect emergency vehicles with their sirens when they are coming down a road.

“I think people really do need to think how they are parking.

“Obviously this incident on this road is a warning to us all. This incident could have been much worse. I certainly don’t want to lose a constituent because of someone’s parking.”