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11/10/2005
Houston Fire Chief Illegally Blocks Fire Hydrant
The Houston fire chief violates Texas law by blocking a fire hydrant in front of City Hall.

Fire chief parked illegally
When Houston's fire chief, T.A. Stone, needs a place to park he doesn't hunt for an available spot like most residents of the sprawling Texas city. Stone just pulls up next to a fire hydrant.

"I knew whether there was gonna be a fire, because I have my radio on," Stone explained to the KHOU-TV news crew that caught captured the incident on film. "I didn't like it, either. But I was asked to get over here. And this vehicle doesn't fit in parking garages as well as others."

Stone was not on an emergency call, rather he was asked to testify at a city council meeting. Meter maids who issued parking tickets to nearby cars with less serious violations did not ticket Stone's vehicle. Under Texas law, fire officials are allowed to park anywhere -- but the provision, "applies only when the operator is responding to an emergency call." Moreover, the official would also need to use his emergency lights when engaging in conduct otherwise prohibited by law (Transportation Code, sections 546.001-3).

Article Excerpt:
TEXAS TRANSPORTATION CODE
CHAPTER 546. OPERATION OF AUTHORIZED EMERGENCY VEHICLES AND CERTAIN OTHER VEHICLES

SUBCHAPTER A. AUTHORIZED EMERGENCY VEHICLES

546.001. PERMISSIBLE CONDUCT. In operating an authorized emergency vehicle the operator may:
(1) park or stand, irrespective of another provision of this subtitle;
(2) proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, after slowing as necessary for safe operation;
(3) exceed a maximum speed limit, except as provided by an ordinance adopted under Section 545.365, as long as the operator does not endanger life or property; and
(4) disregard a regulation governing the direction of movement or turning in specified directions.


546.002. WHEN CONDUCT PERMISSIBLE. (a) In this section, " police escort" means facilitating the movement of a funeral, oversized or hazardous load, or other traffic disruption for public safety purposes by a peace officer described by Articles 2.12(1)-(4), Code of Criminal Procedure.
(b) Section 546.001 applies only when the operator is:
(1) responding to an emergency call;
(2) pursuing an actual or suspected violator of the law;
(3) responding to but not returning from a fire alarm;
(4) directing or diverting traffic for public safety purposes; or
(5) conducting a police escort.


546.003. AUDIBLE OR VISUAL SIGNALS REQUIRED. Except as provided by Section 546.004, the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle engaging in conduct permitted by Section 546.001 shall use, at the discretion of the operator in accordance with policies of the department or the local government that employs the operator, audible or visual signals that meet the pertinent requirements of Sections 547.305 and 547.702.
Source: City official's illegal parking goes without fine (KHOU-TV (Houston, TX), 11/10/2005)



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