Obstructing fire fighters hurts

In Sichuan Province, a fire engine was blocked by several illegally parked private cars while responding to an emergency call.

The People’s Daily reported last week that, in Sichuan Province, a fire engine was blocked by several illegally parked private cars while responding to an emergency call. After trying to contact the car owners, in vain, the fire engine smashed into these cars and rushed to the burning building. This incident stirred controversy, with some claiming the cars were parked there because of a lack of parking space, and this represents a case of being more sinned against than sinning. Others argued that firefighters should do what’s necessary in an emergency.

Those who have misconceptions about the situation need to be reminded that obstructing a fire engine’s passage does lead to legal complications. The Fire Control Law provides that occupying and blocking the access of fire engines is an offence punishable by a fine of up to 50,000 yuan (US$7,473). The Law on Penalties for Administration of Public Security even states that anyone obstructing ambulances, fire engines and police vehicles could be detained for up to 10 days. But there is a catch here. As yet, there’s no law or regulation stating that fire engines can force their way through cars obstructing their passage. Authorities need to specify how to deal in an emergency situation to embolden firefighters, and deter obstructors.


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