Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Winter Park Fire Department Respects Narrow Streets

Phelps Avenue, Winter Park, FL, is narrower than the typical 24 foot or wider roads found in newer suburbia.    Narrower roads slow traffic and are safer for kids, although the curb radius shown in the photo above is somewhat excessive and induces higher speed turns than necessary.    
Fire departments around the country often oppose construction of narrow streets out of concern such streets could delay a life saving response.  Unfortunately, wide streets make vehicular travel faster and more dangerous for kids playing, bicyclists, and other motorists.  I have heard more than one planner lament that fire departments do not purchase smaller and more maneuverable trucks.

Winter Park, Florida has many beautiful, tree canopy-covered narrow streets, many paved with bricks generations ago.  The Winter Park Fire Department recently purchased a new fire truck to better maneuver those narrow streets.   The story below, summarizing a City Commission meeting, appears in the Winter Park-Maitland Observer at this LINK:

  More than a year ago, the department initiated discussions that led to a change in the type of aerial apparatus it would purchase to replace the existing unit. Seeing an opportunity to improve efficiency and mobility, the modern design of this unit will offer the department the following efficiencies and added benefits:
• Increased maneuverability through traffic,
• Quicker access to some of the city’s narrow streets and turns which are more difficult to negotiate,
• Additional 300-cubic-feet of storage space
o The use of a long trailer design where one firefighter sits in the rear allows for the consolidation of existing tools and equipment onto one unit
This new firefighting unit combines the technology of today with the proven maneuverability of tiller-driven trucks. The new tractor-drawn aerial truck represents the return of an apparatus style that is seeing resurgence around the country. Winter Park joins other Florida cities such as Tampa, Jacksonville and Clearwater, which have recently returned these maneuverable units to their fire apparatus fleet.