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Fire chief talks about tight turning radius for fire trucks on 300 block of Clematis Street

Posted at 6:48 PM, Nov 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-13 23:58:42-05

It's no secret driving down the new Streetscape block of Clematis Street in West Palm Beach is a little tighter, but two-way traffic is getting through just fine. The concern now is, will fire trucks be able to get through during Clematis Street's most congested times of day?

'From the beginning, we obviously from the fire department perspective voiced our concerns when we heard they were going to be narrowing streets," said Diana Matty, West Palm Beach Fire Chief. 

The city kept emergency vehicles in mind when designing the new city Streetscape roads, wider sidewalks, more narrow roads but big enough for West Palm Beach Fire Department's largest truck to get through 

"We calculated all of the dimensions, we calculated all of the turning radiuses," said Scott Kelly, Assistant City Administrator for the City of West Palm Beach. 

Even though everything appears to fit on paper and the city showed video of the ladder truck driving through and turning off the 300 block of Clematis Street, there's concern about what happens when you add more traffic. 

"If we have vehicles that creep past what's known as the stop bar, the white line and the truck has a decreased turning radius toward a narrow entrance into that road, that citizen is causing problems for the other citizens that we're responding to down that road," said Fire Chief Matty. 

Kelly said that can be an issue on any road. Chief Matty believes there could be delays, but there are protocols the department enacts if the truck cannot get close enough to a fire. Kelly said in the event the ladder truck is being called out, chances are the whole road will be shut down. 

"No matter what the width, in order to put the outriggers out on a ladder truck, they're going to extend out and you have to clear the road of cars regardless," added Kelly.