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In urban areas in the United States, a fire lane is a marked lane in a parking lot that is near a structure or, in New York City, a traffic lane marked "Fire Lane" that runs along the centre of a street. Parking is prohibited in fire lanes to ensure the access of safety equipment to the structure in the event of an emergency. Fire lanes are defined as passageways or access roads that allow fire apparatuses to pass through. They are not intended for normal vehicle traffic. There are certain requirements that must be met when designing a fire lane. Because fire trucks and other apparatuses are so large, there must be certain accommodations made for them. Though these can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, they are generally similar. Fire Lanes also provide clear space for egress from a burning building and should therefore be wider for larger occupancy buildings.
In forested areas, a fire lane is a cleared path sufficiently wide that a fire on one side would not be able to jump to the other side of the lane. The purpose is to contain forest fires.
Fire lanes may be any width larger than 20 feet across. This gives enough room to maneuver the truck into position. They must also be at least ten feet away from any building or structure overhang to allow overhead clearance. If trees are near a fire lane, they must be trimmed to allow a 14-foot clearance over the fire lane. The fire lane must be within 150 feet of the ends of the buildings that it serves. If a fire lane goes around a curve or corner, it must have an outside turning radius of 54 feet, and an inside turning radius of 30 feet. These numbers can be a little different depending on the jurisdiction, but are usually roughly the same. The fire lanes must also be approved to carry at least 35 tons of weight.
All fire lanes must be marked as such, although the manner of marking may be different. If the lane is 20 feet across, it must be marked on both sides with red paint on the curb. If the fire lane is between 20 and 24 feet, it may only be marked on one side of the roadway. If the access road is greater than 28 feet wide, no markings need to be present. Fire lanes in front of commercial buildings may have yellow paint to mark the fire lane. The curb should be painted yellow with the words "No Parking, Fire Lane" painted in black. On the pavement, yellow lines should be painted the width of the fire lane, with the words 12 inches tall and painted in yellow.
It is preferable for a fire lane to have access at both ends to a road. If that is not possible and a fire lane must be made into a dead end, a fire lane turnaround is put in. It must be large enough for a fire truck to turn around to head out the same way it came in. They can be made as a large circle, or in the shape of a Y, T or a sideways T. They must be marked with either paint striping, signs, or the use of both. Striping consists of a six-inch red stripe painted on the curb with four-inch white letters indicating that this is a fire lane. "No Parking, Fire Lane" is to be printed every 25 feet along the fire lane.
- Waymer, Jim (March 24, 2013). "No Money to care for the land we saved". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). pp. 1A.
A fire lane is any area, marked or unmarked, that allows for emergency vehicle access.