Fire lanes provide access for fire-fighting equipment next to buildings.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines a fire lane as an area “allowing fire apparatus to approach a building and operate effectively.” The fire lane can be closed or open to parking or traffic. According to the OSHA publication “Fire Service Features,” a fire lane plays a critical role in allowing effective placement of firefighting equipment, as well as other emergency responders, into the building.
Fire Lane Planning
The street serves as the fire lane for buildings constructed adjacent to public streets or roads. Buildings set back from the street require a fire lane. Several factors go into the placement of a fire lane. Place the fire lane where fire fighters will need to park their equipment in the event of a fire. High-rise buildings, which may necessitate an aerial truck, require fire lanes away from the building to give the ladder trucks room to operate. For a single-story building, place the fire lane next to the building for pumper truck access.
Keep your fire lane free of overhead obstructions that would limit the size of fire equipment. Allow for large enough turning radii at corners for fire trucks as well. In many cases, you’ll need to plan your fire lane larger than necessary for the fire equipment used in the area. Fire trucks are replaced, occasionally with larger equipment, more often than buildings and their associated fire lanes.
A fire lane must measure a minimum of 20 feet wide according to the “Uniform Fire Code” handbook. A fire lane can be closed to traffic or parking, or open for use. Policy for most fire departments allows fire personnel to use the fire trucks to push parked vehicles out of the way in the event of a fire.
State and local ordinances vary as to mark fire lanes. For fire lanes where you plan to prohibit parking, include yellow or red stripes on the pavement and curb. Place no parking signs prominently along the lane. Some signs specify the penalty for parking violations, while others specify the area as a fire lane.