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When Wally Scott sees a fire hydrant–like the one above in Reading, Pennsylvania–he doesn’t just see an important tool for firefighters to keep the city safe. Wally Scott sees a lost parking space. And as mayor of Reading, Scott has an idea how to turn this into parking for the citizens. I should warn you it’s not just any idea. Scott seems quite proud of it, touting it as a brand new idea. Here’s how Anthony Orozco of the Reading Eagle described it after attending the city’s first strategic planning meeting for hew year:
The mayor soon after followed up with several ideas on how to improve the city, which included completing an update to city surveillance cameras, repairing city sidewalks and possibly turning fire hydrants away from street and toward homes as a way to create more parking in the city.
“If we have 1,000 fire hydrants, we have 1,000 new parking spaces,” Scott said. “I’m not looking at old ideas. I’m looking at new ideas.”
For the firefighters reading this I don’t need to explain what’s wrong with the mayor’s strategic planning. I also imagine I don’t need to tell the non-firefighters how stupid this is. But just in case: having people parking in front of hydrants that will now face away from the street basically gives firefighters zero access to quickly connect to the plug and get water. Maybe Scott’s next strategic idea will be to widen and reinforce sidewalks to allow fire engines to ride on them to hook up.
But none of us should be surprised that Mayor Scott thinks this way. Wally Scott also believes two firefighters on a fire engine is a safe and effective way to run a fire department. That’s standard staffing in Reading, Pennsylvania. That’s almost as stupid as turning fire hydrants away from the street.