How Close Can You Park to a Fire Hydrant: Rules and Fines in Canada

How Close Can You Park to a Fire Hydrant: Rules and Fines in Canada

Have you ever experienced driving for hours and hours just to find the perfect parking space only to see a fire hydrant on the sidewalk? Then a question comes to mind: How close can you park to a fire hydrant? More questions come flooding into your head. Should you park here or keep driving?

Parking near a fire hydrant can be a risky and dangerous move. It can hinder emergency responders’ access to the hydrant in the event of a fire or other emergency.

Suppose you found parking near a fire hydrant, and you parked your car nearby. In the event of a fire, firefighters will do everything to get access to the fire hydrant.

The hose needs to be in a straight line, keeping the maximum water pressure. Therefore, making the hose go under or over a car is not an option.

If one does not consider their car’s parking distance from the fire hydrant and parks near it, firefighters would have to break their car windows. This will result not just in fines for breaking the rules but also unnecessary expenses for car repairs.

If you do not know how close you can park to a fire hydrant, you might illegally park nearby and hinder the firefighters from doing their jobs properly. This may cost someone else’s life. That is a huge consequence that cannot compare even to the heftiest fines. 

Therefore, it is important that you know how close you can park to a fire hydrant.

How often do people park near fire hydrants?

A Canadian Press Release analysis once stated that Toronto has collected more than $24 million worth of fines since 2008 due to parking close to fire hydrants.

This only shows that there could be a lot of people who do not know how close they can park to a fire hydrant. Or perhaps they are confused about the rule.

If you do not want to belong to these unfortunate statistics, you should know how far to park from fire hydrants.

How Close Can You Park to a Fire Hydrant - comparewise

How close can you park to a fire hydrant?

Generally, car owners must not park within three metres (nine feet) of a fire hydrant. This is how close you can park to a fire hydrant. The same rule applies to almost all municipalities throughout Ontario, Canada.

Car owners who are found to break this rule will be fined if they get caught. There are also fines for those who park near a car hydrant to load and unload goods from or to their vehicle.

This three-metre rule helps firefighters easily find fire hydrants from the street. It also helps them park as close as possible to get access to water if they need to extinguish a fire.

The three-metre rule can be tricky

Many are aware of the three-metre rule but still get fined because they fully do not understand it. This rule is indeed clear about how far you can park from a fire hydrant. However, some still get confused, especially if they are parking in front of a fire hydrant that is more than three metres from the curb.

Some think that if a hydrant is more than three metres away from the curb, then it is fine to park in front of it. However, that is not the case.

No matter how far the hydrant is from the curb, the purpose is to give firefighters enough space in front of it. This allows firemen to freely attach hoses to the fire hydrant, without any cars blocking the way. Therefore, you must still follow the three-metre rule as this is how close you can park to a fire hydrant.

If a fire hydrant is placed more than three metres from the curb, here’s a tip. Imagine a straight line from the hydrant out to the curb, then use the three-metre rule to either side of the line.

It is not about the distance or how many metres from the fire hydrant. It is about the width along the curb. Parking enforcement officers also use the curb space on either side as a guideline on whether to give tickets or not. If you follow this tip, you will be able to avoid getting fire hydrant parking tickets.

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Do not base your decision on the colour of the curb

The colour of the curb is not a good basis for how close you can park to a fire hydrant. Know that there are no exceptions to the three-metre rule.

Ideally, the curb should be coloured red, making it easier to know that there could be a parking hydrant nearby. However, there are instances when the city may not be able to paint it yet.

Nevertheless, the Canadian government rarely cares about the colour of the curb. Therefore one should not solely depend on the curb’s colour when parking. Instead, you should remember that three metres are how close you can park to a fire hydrant.

Some drivers also think that they can park near a fire hydrant if its colour is different. For instance, you may have heard that if the fire hydrant is grey, then it is fine to park near it. This is false information.

To reiterate, the law emphasises that you must not park within three metres of a fire hydrant. And you must stick to the instructions if you want to avoid hefty fines.

Exceptions to the rule

There are no exceptions to the three-metre rule. However, it is important to know why laws like these exist.

The laws about how close you can park to a fire hydrant are here to ensure the safety of firefighters and other citizens. The law does not aim to inconvenience you.

This means that if you stay in your car with its engine on, and firefighters arrive to use the fire hydrant, you can move your vehicle out of the way immediately. You may also load and unload goods or passengers. But that’s all.

You cannot park your car three metres from the fire hydrant and then get out of the vehicle.

Some drivers may also say that they only need to park for a minute. The duration of your parking does not have anything to do with how close you can park to a fire hydrant.

Traffic enforcers can give you a ticket in less than a minute the moment they see you illegally parking there. You would not really want to risk that.

If there is a fire incident, the firemen are not responsible for your car nor are they insured to drive it. Moreover, there would be no time to move your vehicle out of the way in case of fire emergencies.

The only person responsible for your car is you. You are also responsible to know how close you can park to a fire hydrant. Therefore, you have to make sure that you are inside your vehicle, with its engine running, if you need to drop off passengers or goods.

Signs near parking hydrants

In some cities, there could be signage that allows you to park for certain hours. However, you should double-check that these signs explicitly say how close you can park to a fire hydrant to avoid fire hydrant parking tickets.

For instance, there are signs that are meant for street cleaning, which say “You cannot park between X hour and Y hour.”

In this case, the sign does not allow you to park within three metres of a fire hydrant between X and Y hours. Even if you park during the hours mentioned in the sign, the rule is in relation to street cleaning, not how close you can park to a fire hydrant.

A sign that shows how close you can park to a fire hydrant will clearly show a fire hydrant sign or the use of an arrow that explicitly states the fact that a fire hydrant is nearby. Other signs are irrelevant.

Fines for fire hydrant parking

In Canada, fines should be paid in case you forgot to consider the right distance parking from a fire hydrant. The fine for parking near a fire hydrant amounts to $100. Car owners can pay their fines either online or in person at their local city hall.

The rules on how close you can park to a fire hydrant were established to protect the safety of residents and prevent unnecessary damage to property in the event of a fire and other emergencies.

However, it is important to note that specific laws on how close you can park to a fire hydrant may differ depending on the location.

Additional expenses for parking near a fire hydrant

You already know that the fine for parking near a hydrant costs $100. However, there are other expenses you might face if you parked illegally because you did not know how close you can park to a fire hydrant.

For instance, if your car is towed for the fourth time, there is a storage fee that you should pay before you can get your car back. This storage fee starts at $281, which piles up as the day goes on. This is because the expense includes not just the tow fees but also the impoundment facility fees.

The prices may vary depending on the impoundment facility, but to give you an idea, a seven-day tow and impound in Ontario would cost you $700 to $1000. That is an expensive price to pay! Therefore, make sure that you know how close you can park to a fire hydrant.

Do cars get towed for parking near a fire hydrant?

Illegal parking can lead to getting your car towed by the city, but not just for parking near a fire hydrant once or twice. New laws state that your vehicle can get towed for three undisputed, unpaid tickets and if a fourth is issued over 120 days from the last offence.

The fourth ticket could be due to parking near a fire hydrant or other reasons as long as it is a parking infraction.

Whether you get a parking ticket or have your car clamped or towed—or a combination of any or all of these—it is an expensive consequence.

Parking hydrant tickets’ effect on licence and insurance

No, getting tickets due to parking too close to a fire hydrant does not affect your licence or insurance. Parking hydrant tickets are not reportable infractions. Therefore, it will not affect your licence. However, if you do not pay fees, you might face difficulties re-registering your car.

As for demerit points, you will not incur any because it is not a moving violation.

Meanwhile, insurance rates could be affected depending on how you respond to your parking hydrant fees. If you pay your fees promptly, there is a good chance that it will not have an effect on your insurance premiums.

But if you make delays paying your ticket fines or ignore them long enough for additional fees to accumulate, your car insurance premiums will increase. It might also incur other financial penalties.

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Tips to avoid getting fined for parking near a fire hydrant

Although it is easy to understand the rules on how close you can park to a fire hydrant, you may want to take extra precautions to make sure you are parking legally.  Below are some tips you can follow to steer clear of fire hydrant parking tickets in your city:

  • Always look for street signs that indicate “fire route” or “no parking” before you park your car.
  • Do not idle in “no standing” or no stopping” zones as these areas are usually near fire hydrants.
  • Double-check if there are fire hydrants closer to buildings or across from the curb.
  • If possible, plan your trip ahead of time and find a parking space before driving to your destination.
  • Commute. By using public transit, you do not have to find a parking space for your car. Moreover, commuting helps lower carbon imprint.
  • Always allot more space from the fire hydrant. To be more precise, you can always bring with you a laser measuring device or a measuring tape.

Thanks for checking out how close can you park to a fire hydrant.

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FAQs about how close can you park to a fire hydrant

Can you park across the street from a fire hydrant?

You cannot park your car if it is less than three metres away from the hydrant. This is also applied even if it is across the street. Although roads are often wide enough to allow you to park across the street from a fire hydrant, you should still look for parking signs and distance just in case.

Can a fire hydrant parking ticket affect insurance rates?

No, it does not affect your insurance rates. Parking tickets do not show on your insurance history. Therefore, your rates do not increase no matter how many tickets you receive, regardless of the type of parking ticket.

Are fire hydrant parking rules the same in all cities?

Cities in Ontario, Canada usually fine car owners an amount of $100 for parking less than three metres away from a fire hydrant. However, the rules on how close you can park to a fire hydrant can vary for each city. Make sure to find out about the local laws of the city you live in or you are travelling to.

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May 14, 2023
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