FIREFIGHTERS are warning people that bad parking is costing emergency services vital seconds as they respond to 999 calls.

And parents stopping outside schools are among the worst culprits for blocking roads.

This means ambulances, fire engines and police vehicles are struggling to get to incidents where people’s lives could be at risk.

Firefighters at Warrington Fire Station are asking drivers to be considerate. James Bell from red watch said: “The biggest problem is inconsiderate parking.

“Not everyone thinks like we do, they think they have left a big enough gap for a car but it’s not always enough space for an emergency vehicle. The end of the school day can be bad and it can increase our response times.

“Ultimately, if we have to we are going to move a car out the way.”

He added that the problem is having an impact on how quickly the crew can get to an emergency. And it is not just parked vehicles that can cause problems for fire engines, ambulances and police cars.

Firefighters are specially trained to drive large vehicles with their blue lights on but getting through the traffic in congested parts of town like Bridgefoot can be a challenge.

James said: “The biggest problem is not so much getting there as that we don’t want to put anybody at risk.

“There’s no law, you are not obliged to get out of the way.

“We would just like people to move out of the way safely and take their time if they have to.

“We switch off the sirens at red lights because we don’t want to push people through. We don’t encourage people to break the law by going through, that’s their choice.”

He said drivers can help by using their indicators to show that they are pulling over and by making sure they have left enough space for an emergency vehicle to get through.

But he urged people not to panic if they cannot get out of the way.

James said: “We get some good runs and then we get some really poor runs. As a firefighter, the first time you drive with the blue lights on is nerve-wracking, it’s not for everyone. It’s also a huge responsibility.

“We want people to stay safe and if we get involved in a collision that also means we can’t get to the emergency fast enough.”