EASLEY — The Easley Fire Department is asking for the community’s help when it comes to getting to rescue calls in a timely manner by doing something really simple: not blocking them in.
Fire Chief Butch Womack says he sees it everyday, cars lined up on South Pendleton Street — from light to light — blocking the driveway in front of Station No. 1.
“We can control the traffic lights out here if need be, but even that’s not instant,” he said. “If we turn them (the traffic lights) so we can get out on a call, we still have to wait for the congested traffic to clear. And that takes time.”
Time the department doesn’t have.
“Statistics show that for every 60 seconds a fire goes without firefighters, it doubles in size,” said EFD Capt. Matthew Littleton. “So, every second counts.”
Womack stated the department got permission to place the orange traffic cones on South Pendleton Street but although they have helped raise awareness for drivers to leave a gap in front of the station, that wasn’t the cones’ intended purpose.
“We put those cones out there to stop people from using the median as an extended turn lane,” he said. “There’s a place up closer to the light where you can merge over if you’re turning left. But people will just hop on in that center lane and all they’re looking at is the light up there. It causes a lot of accidents because you’ll have someone coming across — and you’ll have two cars, in the right and left lanes stopped — but then here comes someone up that median that no ones sees — and they collide.”
Womack said an Easley Police officer spent an afternoon writing tickets out there before the cones were placed and that he “ran out.”
“It was just constant,” he said. “People don’t realize that it’s illegal, but it is. You can’t just cross a solid white line on the road, you have to wait until the turn lane actually opens. That’s why we put the cones out.”
Speaking of solid white lines, The Sentinel-Progress asked Chief Womack why an intersection “X” hadn’t been painted on the road in front of the station, much like the one further up the street where cars turn into Dodge’s and Bi-lo grocery store.
“Well, it’s not a matter of the city just going out there and doing it, it’s a state road,” Womack said. “But it is something we’re looking into getting done, it would be helpful.”
When asked if he or his staff had considered just sneaking out after dark with a couple of cans of white spray paint, Womack chuckled.
“We’ve thought about it,” he joked. “We’ve thought about it.”