Boston Resident Learns Why You Shouldn’t Park In Front Of Fire Hydrants

Boston Fire

Well, this isn’t an mistake you’re likely to make twice:

It took a fire in East Boston to show an unlucky BMW owner exactly why you’re not supposed to park in front of fire hydrants.

An eight-alarm fire damaged three buildings in East Boston Wednesday night before firefighters could contain it. Those efforts were temporarily slowed by a parked BMW that blocked a fire hydrant across the street. So responders did the only thing they could do – they smashed the car’s windows in and ran the hose right through, calling to mind a particular scene from the 1991 film “Backdraft.”

A person on Twitter got the view from the other side:

 

One report I saw online that hasn’t been corroborated said that the car was only a few days old which would only seem to make the sense of justice here stronger. Whatever the truth of that is though, I hope the guy I had insurance.

FILED UNDER: General
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Jeff says:

    This seems to be more of a class warfare thing than firefighters doing their jobs. If this had been a 1998 Toyota Corolla owned by a working class stiff, would everyone be equally thrilled to see his car vandalized by rogue firefighters, who could have done their legitimate job more quickly and more easily simply by running the hose over the windshield? I don’t think so.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    I believe Joyner is a recovering former BMW driver, so I don’t want to say that all BMW drivers are aszholes, because only 90% of BMW drivers are aszholes. But generally if you’re on the freeway and someone’s being a complete dick, it’s a BMW driver.

    You know who’s much nicer? Benz drivers.

  3. grumpy realist says:

    @Jeff: If it were a 1998 Toyota Corolla, the firefighters would have probably done the same thing, but the rest of us wouldn’t have been laughing so hard.

    Parking in front of a fire hydrant is a dick move, no matter what type of car you own.

  4. DrDaveT says:

    @michael reynolds:

    But generally if you’re on the freeway and someone’s being a complete dick, it’s a BMW driver.

    I generally phrase it the other way ’round. In my experience, there are only two makes of car that allow you to predict the behavior of the driver with decent accuracy — BMW and Volvo. The BMW driver is going to weave, cut people off, go straight (or turn right!) from the left turn lane, and not signal turns or lane changes. The Volvo driver is going to be overly-timid when changing lanes, turning, passing a semi, or entering a highway. He will also drive too slowly in a fast lane, and hang back from the car ahead of him by enough to invite BMWs to keep cutting him off.

    Lately, Infiniti drivers are starting to show that they are really BMW wannbes.

  5. bill says:

    @michael reynolds: they did a study on the “worst drivers” a few months back, bmw won- preferably in blue! i always thought it was the vw crowd, not beetle types- the sedan drivers, maybe i just assume the beemers were already worse.
    not that benz drivers are much better, if at all!

  6. grumpy realist says:

    @DrDaveT: Mmmm…so how does the BMW owner’s driving habits differ from that of the normal Boston driver? (grin)

  7. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: Oh, it’s worse than that: I drive a BMW convertible. I’m both a more aggressive than average and a more courteous than average driver. The latter especially in my BMW, both because people already presume I’m a dick for driving it and because I’ve generally got the top down and am less insulated than most drivers from the reactions of others.

    @Jeff: Yeah, that was my reaction as well. Run the hose over the windshield or over the roof. It’s not only faster but less likely to damage the hose.

  8. argon says:

    Look at the bottom picture. The hose was already kinked enough. Putting it over the hood would’ve made it worse. The driver was lucky they didn’t peel off the car’s doors to ensure a straight shot from the hydrant.

  9. If you look at the bottom picture, they also smashed up the rear quarter panel, which has nothing to do with getting the hose through the windows.

    So this seems to have been as much about teaching someone a lesson as actual necessity.

  10. @DrDaveT:

    I generally phrase it the other way ’round. In my experience, there are only two makes of car that allow you to predict the behavior of the driver with decent accuracy — BMW and Volvo.

    There’s a third:

    non-commercial pickup trucks

  11. JKB says:

    Odd as it may seem, with that size hose at those pressures, that routing may be the least damaging to the car. Possibly they could have gone underneath but it would probably jack the car up on the hydrant side.

  12. Boyd says:

    So, after breaking out the first window, why didn’t they just open the door on the other side?

  13. Mary Finn says:

    @Jeff: Never. My cabdriver father warned me that this same thing could happen to my car if I did it, and I drove a beater in New York. It’s been happening for decades in every city. It makes the point.

    For whatever reason, this is exactly the way firefighters run a hose in this situation. It’s nothing new.

  14. Mary Finn says:

    @Boyd: Probably using the window frame to stabilize the hose instead of the firefighter who should be standing there holding it.

  15. gVOR08 says:

    Let’s expand the range of prejudice on display. Several years ago BMW introduced a line of SUVs. It was necessary. How could they maintain the reputation of BMW drivers as the worst in the world without an SUV?

    (Actually, the worst are Saabs, but for some reason only dark colored Saabs.)

    @Boyd: If you have axes, their way is probably faster.

  16. George says:

    I desperately want to flame Jeff really badly, but I have to go move my car first.

  17. DrDaveT says:

    @grumpy realist:

    so how does the BMW owner’s driving habits differ from that of the normal Boston driver?

    In the dark, all cats are black.

  18. DrDaveT says:

    @JKB:

    Odd as it may seem, with that size hose at those pressures, that routing may be the least damaging to the car.

    My mother-in-law’s version of the story, in nearby Brookline, involved having the pumper push the offending vehicle out of the way. Its owner would very much have preferred having his windows busted out.

  19. KM says:

    This seems to be more of a class warfare thing than firefighters doing their jobs.

    Yeah, that was my reaction as well. Run the hose over the windshield or over the roof. It’s not only faster but less likely to damage the hose.

    Wow. Some asshole endangers lives and you’re whining about the car and “class warfare”. In an emergency, you do whatever it takes to stop the emergency and save lives. The fact that you think someone should have wasted precious time to figure out how not to damage the illegally parked car instead of dealing with the 8-alarm fire says a lot more about you as a person then you’d probably like to admit. You value your shiny property’s integrity over ending the fire that’s currently destroying other people’s shiny property and endangering innocents. The owner’s not only a criminal, but a truly arrogant one at that. The only class warfare going on is the people who assume their portable hunk of metal is more valuable and sacrosanct then anyone else’s lives or property.

    FYI if they had placed it on the hood and it had crushed it (a real possibility) or did other significant damage, you’d be whining about why they couldn’t do something else. It’s a car, it shouldn’t have been there period. Do the crime, suffer the penalty.

  20. Franklin says:

    If anybody read the story, the firefighters also had to ‘bounce’ the car out of the way with the help of some bystanders. This is time that wasn’t used to, you know, fight the fire. An 8-alarm fire. So anybody who is bitching about class warfare can f**k off.

    Plus, the kinks matter.

  21. Chris M. says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The damage to the rear panel is probably because they needed room to fit that junction onto the hydrant and then to give the hose room to route up and through the window without a more serious kink.

  22. Grewgills says:

    @Boyd:
    or with the door open, shift the car into neutral and roll it back out of the way. It doesn’t look like there is a car behind it.

  23. KM says:

    @Grewgills:

    or with the door open, shift the car into neutral and roll it back out of the way. It doesn’t look like there is a car behind it.

    Umm you do realize there was a fire going on right? Who the hell would be wasting time on moving the car when they could be, I don’t know, FIGHTING THE FIRE?! Why is your priority the vehicle? Why does the criminal’s property rank higher then the innocents’? Where is your humanity?

    Honestly, you’d think it was the Mona Lisa that was defaced the way people are trying to come up with ways the car could have be spared. Quite frankly, I would have smashed the damn thing on the way to the hydrant with extreme prejudice, had the remains towed at the owner’s expense and then charged him to the full extent of the law – up to and including manslaughter if someone died due to this stupidity. Then again, I’ve had a family member be horribly burned and scarred for life in a fire because the firefighters couldn’t get there in time so I’m incredibly sensitive to this subject.

    People could have been hurt or died. F^@$ the car, the owner and anyone arrogant enough to whine about how they should have wasted time trying to save it. Bust the criminal who did this, charge them and never be ashamed of what you did in the line of duty. Firefighters save lives, selfish jerks block hydrants – remember that.

  24. Grewgills says:

    @KM:
    It’s not about the car. Rolling the car out of the way would eliminate two kinks in the hose at the cost of several seconds. As an added bonus the hose would not be rubbing against ragged edges of broken glass.

  25. grumpy realist says:

    @Mary Finn: If this is standard policy, the stories get around and it really reinforces Do Not Leave Your Car In Front Of A Fire Hydrant.

    It was probably quicker for them to break both windows and get the hose hooked up than futzing around with gears and moving the car.

    I have no sympathy for the driver. With fires, every second counts.

  26. KM says:

    @Grewgills:
    Sorry if I came off rude before, this whole thing just really bothers me.

    We don’t really know if there was a car or anything else behind it – the camera angle isn’t wide enough to tell if there was enough space. Moving the car may have taken up needed space or created a hazard to work around. I think if that if it was the best course of action at the time, then they would have taken it by moving the car – you don’t mess around at an 8-alarm fire. Going under and around isn’t really feasible as you can’t bend hose with that kind of pressure running through it. They might have had something under the hose to cushion it against the glass or maybe the glass shards weren’t enough to be a threat to the thickness of the hose. Quite frankly, going through was the best bet.

    I think people are unfairly attributing maliciousness to the firefighters when they probably just took the quickest route to achieve their goal due to urgency of the situation; too many people are playing armchair quarterback. I find it very interesting there are so many people going “But!” – makes you wonder how many of them are thinking that could have been their car! They made the right call under the circumstances and it really diminishes the car owner’s culpability in all this to wonder about what the BFD could have done differently.

  27. Franklin says:

    @Grewgills: Can you shift an automatic car out of park without the key? I can’t remember, I generally only drive manual cars. And I can’t immediately tell if that BMW is manual or automatic.

    In any case, there’s a lot of hindsight going on here, with a lot of time spent figuring out the absolute best solution to the problem, when in reality there wasn’t much time for decision-making while the fire was going on.

  28. Grewgills says:

    @KM:
    I don’t feel much sympathy to whoever parked their car there, despite the fact that neither insurance, city, or county will defray any of the repair costs. I simply don’t think the firemen took even a moment to think if there was an easier way than going through the douche’s car. Talking to my brother, a firefighter on duty now, I get the distinct impression that it doesn’t much matter to them if they could just as easily move the car with less damage to the vehicle. To quote him, “Don’t park in front of hydrants… We will f#ck your sh!t up if you park in front of a hydrant and we need it.” Not, we will f#ck your sh!t up if it is more difficult to move it than go through it, just we will f#ck your sh!t up.