Three top officers in the Oak Ridge Fire Department can now issue tickets for parking violations, but they will only use that authority in limited circumstances, such as when drivers block access to a fire hydrant or fire lane, Chief Darryl Kerley said Friday.
“It’s not like we’re going to be out patrolling the area writing tickets,” Kerley said.
The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday unanimously agreed to designate most Fire Department staff as special police officers, giving them authority to issue citations. The proposal was part of the Not in Our City campaign meant to combat drug abuse and crime, improve housing, and make Oak Ridge a better place to live and invest.
To issue the citations, however, the firefighters have to be trained by the Oak Ridge Police Department.
Kerly said only three chief officers will be allowed to write tickets. They are Kerley, Deputy Chief David Harrington, and Assistant Chief for Fire Prevention Josh Waldo.
The tickets will mainly be given for parking violations. The fire department will no longer have to call the police when someone is blocking a fire hydrant, for example.
“It’s just where people are impeding service,” Kerley said. “We do not want to become the police.”
Kerley said he has been fire chief for almost one year and only seen two tickets issued, one for a blocked fire hydrant and another to a vehicle parked in a fire lane.
“It doesn’t happen very often,” he said.
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