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Emergency swervice! FDNY ambulances block sidewalks, bus stops, and fire hydrants

Oh, irony: For more than two years Hiram Salgado has complained to the city about ambulances causing traffic jams, parking in front of fire hydrants, and blocking a bus stop on 50th Street near Seventh Avenue.
Community News Group / Caroline Spivack

The city must crack down on scofflaw Fire Department ambulance drivers who are making Sunset Park unsafe by parking on sidewalks, in bus lanes, and, ironically, in front of fire hydrants, people living near Station 40 on Seventh Avenue are demanding.

“They come over here, they figure they can do whatever the hell they want to do. They block Seventh Avenue, park in the bus stop — which is illegal — and they park in front of my driveway,” said Hiram Salgado, who lives in front of the B11 bus stop around the corner on 50th Street. “They’re supposed to be helping people, and instead they’re causing all this trouble.”

The Emergency Medical Technicians moved into Station 40 between 50th and 51st Streets in 2010, and the trouble began soon after, according to locals. Since then, Salgado and neighbors have logged dozens of complaints to 311 over the years with little results. Even after speaking with station captain Lizette Claro, nothing changed, said Salgado.

“When I speak with the captain, she said they’ll talk to the workers, that they’ll take care of it, and if it happens again call 311,” he said. “But then nothing changes. I don’t see why it’s so hard for them to follow the rules. There used to be a firehouse there, and we didn’t have any trouble with them.”

It is illegal for the vehicles to block a bus stop or double-park, and cars must park at least 15 feet away from fire hydrants, according to the Department of Transportation’s website. But ambulances and Fire Department vehicles frequently double-park on Seventh Avenue — sometimes in front of hydrants — causing traffic and congestion for commuters. It is an especially dangerous situation for bus riders, one resident said.

“It’s a major safety hazard,” said Wanda Soto, who lives on 50th Street near Seventh Avenue. “They’re always parking in the bus stop, so the bus has to pick people up in the middle of the street, because it can’t pull into the lane. It’s really not safe. It’s just ridiculous.”

But city workers say they’re just trying to make do with a difficult situation.

“It’s honestly not our fault, because [the city] put us here and there’s not enough parking — this use to be a firehouse — it’d make more sense for us to be down on Second or Third Avenue where there is more parking,” said emergency medical technician Lt. Kyle Wigglesworth, who has worked at Station 40 for the last three years. “We understand the community’s concerns, we park some of our vehicles elsewhere, but we try not to inconvenience the neighborhood.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.

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