Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us »
‘Ridiculous’ fine for not moving car for firemen
A MAN was fined for refusing to move his car out of the way of firefighters who were trying to reach an incident in Laindon.
But Clarence Kingston, 72, who pleaded guilty to a charge of obstruction, believes he should never have been taken to court in the first place.
His actions have been condemned by Tony Hedley, chairman of the Essex Fire Authority, who said firefighters should be allowed to get on with their jobs and lives could be lost if people obstruct them while they are working.
Basildon Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday how fire crews were called to an incident in Mellow Purgess Close, Laindon, last month.
Mr Kingston failed to move his car when the firefighters wanted to put a ladder on his driveway to get into the flat above his property, where a smoke alarm was going off.
After pleading guilty, he was fined £100, ordered to pay costs of £85 and a £15 victim surcharge.
Speaking after the case, Mr Kingston, who is disabled and went into court on his mobility scooter, said: “I think the fine is extremely unfair and I cannot believe it has come to court.
“We have so many alarms going off round where we live, I didn’t think anything of it.
“Then, out of nowhere, at 9.30pm we had all these firemen banging on our front door.
“It wasn’t even quiet, and it seemed they were all being over the top for no reason.
“My wife was just about to go to bed and I didn’t want her to have to go out and move the car for no reason.”
Marilyn Kingston, 58, who is her husband’s full-time carer, added: “I had just got home from bingo and I was just getting ready to go to bed when we heard all this commotion outside.
“After we told the firemen they could have got into the flat by breaking the door of the flat down, which was surely the easiest route in, we had about six police officers on my husband who arrested him.
“There wasn’t even a fire. It was just that someone had left the oven on in the flat above us. It was ridiculous.”
Mr Hedley, who is a councillor for Billericay and Burstead, warned people against taking this stance with the emergency services.
He added: “I have honestly never heard of another case where a member of the public has obstructed firefighters.
“Most people are really pleased when they see the crews turn up and always try to be as helpful as possible.
“I wouldn’t recommend anyone do this again, because lives could be lost while the firefighters are trying to do their jobs.”