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Longboat Key Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 4 years ago

My View: Access is a concern for emergency vehicles

by: Chief Paul Dezzi

Longboat Key is a beautiful place to live, but with its luscious landscape and secluded home sites it can be difficult to gain access to locations in an emergency vehicle, especially a fire truck or ambulance.

When an emergency arises, the goal of the fire department and the needs of the community are the same, and that is a quick response to mitigate the situation.

The fire department conducted a survey of Longboat Key to determine if there is a concern in gaining access to both commercial and residential structures. The survey revealed the fire department needs to address certain concerns in its community. The main concern is overgrown trees and shrubbery. Emergency vehicles have a difficult time maneuvering around trees that encroach into the street, because the height of the 75-foot ladder truck is 12 feet. During the rainy season, tree limbs hang lower than normal, which causes even more of a problem with access. Throughout the past few years, the fire department vehicles have been damaged when responding to emergency calls because of striking low-lying trees.

Other concerns found through the survey were landscape pavers at the entrance to complexes, as well as security gates. Before placing landscape pavers at the entrances, please contact the fire department to ensure that the largest truck will be able to gain access to the complex without too much difficulty. It is also important to make contact with the fire department when installing or replacing security gates to ensure they’re wide enough for emergency vehicles to enter, as well as to ensure the gate opener has the proper code. The department has had issues with not being able to gain access, which causes a delay in the response.

The reason for this article is to inform residents and property managers the importance of ensuring proper access for emergency vehicles. The fire department will be making contact with property owners and/or associations that were found to be a concern and will ask for their help in providing better access. If an owner or association receives a letter and has questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the fire department at 316-1944 for clarification.

If we can prevent delays in the response time, then we have been successful as a community. Remembering to keep emergency access as a priority when beautifying your home or business with trees and shrubbery will prevent a delay in emergency response.

Paul Dezzi became chief of Longboat Key Fire Rescue in September 2010.

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