Q: Is it true that the fire department is not allowed to use 54th Street anymore because the vice mayor complained about sirens disturbing his business?
A: More than one person sent this to the Gabber. It is only partly true. Yes, the city manager reports, vice mayor David Hastings (who has two businesses at the corner of 54th Street and Gulfport Boulevard) did ask why the fire trucks had to go past that corner, and yes, the fire department has a new directive about how they should get the trucks to Gulfport Boulevard, but the city manager stressed that what happened is something that would have happened for any resident, not just the vice mayor. He and the fire chief both told us that the new procedure – explained below – makes more sense.
Here’s the history, courtesy of fire chief Jim Marenkovic: The fire trucks historically used 54th Street to get to Gulfport Boulevard because, at one time, there was a blinking traffic light at that corner that allowed the trucks easier access to Gulfport Boulevard. The flashing light went away but firemen still used that route. After the vice mayor questioned this, the city manager spoke with the fire chief and the fire chief created a new policy.
Fire trucks responding to a call now use 54th Street to get to Gulfport Boulevard if they’re heading west. If they’re heading east, the drivers will take the trucks down 53rd Street.
“This is actually better,” the fire chief said, adding that the new procedure hasn’t impacted his department’s ability to do its job.