Last Updated on August 26, 2021 by Lawrence Berezin
If you make these fire hydrant mistakes, you’ll win a $115 parking fine
A Fire hydrant is a ubiquitous fact of life in NYC. They save lives, property and help keep people safe. I can’t imagine an NYC block without one.
On the other hand, fire hydrants have been a nemesis for the driving public. They are the Joker to the driving public’s Batman. But, that iconic curb-dwelling pump is a protected species. Disobeying any of the myriad elements of the fire hydrant rule will result in a $115 fine and probably a tow.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid and how to fix ’em.
The Warrior said I parked 3 feet from the pump
It is always your burden of proof to persuade a judge that you parked more than 15 feet from a fire hydrant. The burden of proof never changes.
A Warrior is required to guess the distance you parked from the pump and enter that number on the parking ticket. It is a guess and generally wrong. The Warrior’s only mandate is to enter a number, any number. I do not think you can beat a ticket if you prove the Warrior’s guess was in error.
Don’t waste your time fighting the Warrior’s bad guess. It will cost you $115.
An ode to taxi and limousine drivers in NYC
I have lost track of the countless number of calls from a taxi, limousine, and commercial drivers dismayed by getting a fire hydrant ticket despite sitting behind the wheel of their chariots between sunrise and sunset less than 15 feet from the pump. Why?
Trix is for kids, and the fire hydrant exception is for passenger vehicles only. If you are not driving a passenger vehicle, do not park less than 15 feet from the pump.
The street cleaning sign made it legal to park less than 15 feet from a fire hydrant
No, it didn’t!
(e) General no stopping zones (stopping, standing and parking prohibited in specified places). No person shall stop, stand, or park a vehicle in any of the following places, unless otherwise indicated by posted signs, markings, or other traffic control devices, or at the direction of a law enforcement officer, or as otherwise provided in this subdivision:
Within fifteen feet of a fire hydrant, unless otherwise indicated by signs or parking meters, except that during the period from sunrise to sunset if standing is not otherwise prohibited, the operator of a passenger car may stand the vehicle alongside a fire hydrant provided that the operator remains in the operator’s seat ready for immediate operation of the vehicle at all times and starts the motor of the car on hearing the approach of fire apparatus, and provided further, that the operator shall immediately remove the car from alongside the fire hydrant when instructed to do so by any member of the police, fire, or other municipal department acting in their official capacity.
I am sad to report that interpretation of “…unless otherwise indicated by signs” is wrong. Just because a street cleaning sign prohibits parking on certain days and hours of the week, it does not mean that you can park near a fire hydrant on the other days and hours of the week. Check out this blog post and the photograph below for the type of parking sign this portion of the rule applies to.
This sign points to the hydrant and affirmatively permits parking between 8 am and 6 pm on Tuesdays.
The fire hydrant was broken
Now you’re the Joe D of broken fire hydrants. It’s not your job to declare a pump dead. Even if the thing appears to be totally lifeless, you are not permitted to park less than 15 feet from a broken or otherwise injured fire hydrant. Period.
I can hear the Greek Chorus chirping that they have gotten a ticket dismissed because the pump was broken. Yes, occasionally, like once in a lifetime, a judge may dismiss a fire hydrant ticket because the pump appeared broken. Believe me; it is not a $115 risk worth taking.
I just left my car for one minute, left the blinkers on, a note on the dashboard, and the keys with my 15-year-old
No driver, no free pass. Please repeat after me; no driver is like leaving milk for a cat. It is an open invitation for a Warrior to walk to the front of your car and give you a costly parking ticket.
Would you please not do it?
Do these common mistakes sound familiar? They should because these 5 little dandies have cost the NYC driving public a whole bunch of money. Here are some suggestions:
- Keep a tape measure in your glove compartment
- Walk off 16 steps from the bumper to the pump right after parking because it immediately elevates you guess to a credible estimate of the distance
- If you are the closest car to the fire hydrant, extend the tape measure to 16 feet, measure the distance from your bumper to the pump, and take photographs showing the tape extended and close-ups on the numbers so the judge can see you parked more than 15 feet away
- If you get a fire hydrant ticket, do not leave the location without taking photographs galore! Please be sure that you photograph your front bumper next to a landmark so you can return later to photograph a tape measurement of the distance.
It is always challenging to fight a fire hydrant ticket and tough to win. But an ounce of precaution is worth $115.
Download your FREE Fire hydrant fighting guide
Fire Hydrant parking tickets sting you with a $115 fine. But you don’t have to pay ’em “no questions asked.”
Joe got an unjust fire hydrant ticket and fought it himself. Sadly, Joe lost. Two weeks later, Joe got a second fire hydrant ticket, and this time asked Larry to fight the good fight. Larry beat the second ticket.
Read Larry’s suggestions to Joe about how to fix his defense package