Irresponsible motorists have been slammed after a fire appliance from Glengormley was prevented from attending an emergency incident.
Firefighters were tackling a blaze at a flat in Rathcoole on Friday afternoon when a second call was received regarding an arson at the derelict Newtownabbey Community School site.
Detailing the events, David Heyburn, Glengormley District Commander Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said: “Wholetime firefighters from Glengormley Fire Station along with firefighters from Whitla Fire Station in Belfast, responded to a report of a fire at 5.42pm in a flat in Rathcoole Close.
“They dealt with cooking left unattended causing smoke in the flat and they ventilated the area.
“Another emergency call was received at 5.57pm to attend a fire in the derelict Newtownabbey Community School.
“Glengormley retained firefighters and Whitla firefighters were mobilised to the incident.
“Glengormley retained firefighters were enroute to the call in the fire appliance, however due to carelessly and illegally parked cars they were unable to gain access down Church Road in Glengormley.”
Commenting on the “serious potential of careless parking” in the vicinity of the fire station, Mr Heyburn added: “Glengormley wholetime firefighters attending the first call, along with Whitla firefighters, were able to respond to the second incident and there was no delay to our operational response.
“They dealt with a small quantity of rubbish deliberately set on fire.
“This incident, in which the intended fire appliance was prevented from attending, serves to highlight the serious potential of careless parking on Church Road in Glengormley and around the fire station.”
Urging motorists to be responsible when deciding where to park, David stated: “We want to reassure people contingency plans are in place and another fire appliance from a neighbouring fire station will always respond, however seconds count in saving lives and irresponsible parking can hinder our operational response.
“We want to remind drivers not to block access from the fire station or around Church Road and Carnmoney Road in Glengormley as the consequences of irresponsible parking could be devastating.
“We are appealing for sensible safe parking by motorists at all times to ensure we can do our job and protect the local community from fires and other emergencies.”