What is Fire hydrant parking distance in New York State?

Quick answer:

Most city fire hydrant parking laws state that you must be parked at least 15 feet away from a fire hydrant (about a full standard sedan car length). The color of both the curb, and the hydrant itself is irrelevant.


How far can I park the car from a fire hydrant?

It is known to us that a car has to be at a minimum distance of one meter from the fire hydrant to not face any legal consequences but states like California have stated that a car should be parked at a minimum distance of 15 feet from the hydrant.

Other than this, a public bus driver can park in front of a fire hydrant if and only if he does not leave the bus on its own. The same rule applies to taxi drivers too. They can also park in front of the hydrant only if they are there in their vehicle.

What happens if the fire hydrant was invisible?

This defense is a little tricky to present. The above image with all the garbage piled on top of the invisible fire hydrant was sent to me by one of my proud friends. He fought the ticket and won. Case dismissed!

However, I recently fought an invisible fire hydrant parking ticket that was covered by an orange construction cone and lost. The judge found us guilty.

The facts in both cases revealed the judge’s rationale. In the garbage case, my friend didn’t live near the location of the invisible fire hydrant. And, garbage is not a permanent obstruction. In other words, the pile of garbage was only hiding the fire hydrant for a few days and there were no facts that showed my friend ever visited the location or knew there was a fire hydrant at that location.

On the other hand, in the case, I lost, my client lived only two blocks from the hidden fire hydrant and the judge inferred that she knew there was a fire hydrant at the location.

Dont Let Confusing Signage Fool You

A confusing part of the NYC fire hydrant rule is that some parking signs around hydrants appear to contradict an otherwise seemingly illegal spot. So like the situation in the image above for example, if a sign prohibits parking between 10:30 AM-6:30 PM but allows parking all other times, and the sign has an arrow pointing in the direction of a fire hydrant, it may seem like you are free to park in front of the hydrant. Doesn’t it seem to perfect? How could you not be able to get away with getting a parking ticket?  Don’t let this fool you. You still absolutely run the risk of being issued a parking ticket. It’s always best to play it safe and not park by fire hydrants. Afterall, we are in New York City and unfortunately, there always seems to be an emergency around the corner. You never know when the firefighters will need immediate access to the fire hydrant you parked in front of.

If you have recently received a fire hydrant parking ticket, don’t let it sit there. Learn the best ways to beat back the flames burning your wallet by paying or fighting (if you feel like you have a good case) that parking ticket.

Do I Have to Pay My New York Parking Ticket?

Upon receiving your ticket, you can:

  • Pay it
  • Appeal it
  • Ignore it

If you don’t want your fines to increase, you must pay or appeal your New York parking ticket within 30 days. 

It may be tempting to ignore your tickets, but penalties can intensify, and NYC Parking Services is notorious for auctioning off cars of those who let fines build up. Other possible penalties for unpaid tickets can be:

  • The fine being taken out of your tax return 
  • Your credit score decreasing
  • Your car being booted, and having to pay for it to be removed: For New York City, your car can be booted after accumulating more than $350 in parking ticket fines or camera violations. 
  • Your car being towed, and having to pay for its return: this can happen if you park in front of a fire hydrant
  • Your car being claimed and sold by the state
  • Your registration being blocked
  • Your case being sent to a collections agency 

It’s best to pay your parking ticket or appeal it within 30 days, and we can help you through the steps below. There are many different options for payment or appeal, and it may be worthwhile to submit your fire hydrant ticket for review by a judge. 

What Is The Fine For Parking Too Close To A Fire Hydrant?

In Ontario, the fine for parking too close to a fire hydrant is $100. Fines can be paid in person at the local city hall or online.

Parking Tickets

Parking enforcement is the responsibility of the New York City Police Department. If you have any questions about police policies or procedures in enforcing traffic regulations or issuing tickets, contact the Police Department. Learn about paying and appealing parking ticket from the Department of Finance Learn how to retrieve a towed vehicle from the Police Department

Fire Hydrants

It is illegal to park within 15 feet of either side of a fire hydrant, including on floating parking lanes (next to protected bike lanes).

What Are Rules Regarding A NYC Fire Hydrant?

First, let’s take a second to read what the regulations are straight from the City law books:

“(e) General no stopping zones (stopping, standing and parking prohibited in specified places). No person shall stop, stand, or park a vehicle in any of the following places, unless otherwise indicated by posted signs, markings or other traffic control devices, or at the direction of a law enforcement officer, or as otherwise provided in this subdivision:

(2) Hydrants. Within fifteen feet of a fire hydrant, unless otherwise indicated by signs, or parking meters, except that during the period from sunrise to sunset if standing is not otherwise prohibited, the operator of a passenger car may stand the vehicle alongside a fire hydrant provided that the operator remains in the operator’s seat ready for immediate operation of the vehicle at all times and starts the motor of the car on hearing the approach of fire apparatus, and provided further, that the operator shall immediately remove the car from alongside the fire hydrant when instructed to do so by any member of the police, fire, or other municipal department acting in his/her official capacity.”

The Place of Occurrence is parking ticket gold

Each and every required element is important. But, there is a required element di tutti element. And that’s the place of occurrence for fire hydrant parking tickets.

I can’t tell you how many times a warrior misdescribed the location of our client’s car. By that I mean, the place of occurrence must identify a specific location that is within 15 feet from a fire hydrant. If not, you win.

Don’t waste your valuable time trying to prove you parked in a different location because a judge is not going to find your testimony persuasive in a “he-said-she-said” battle of locations. The warrior will win that fight every time.

Instead, if a warrior enters a location on your parking ticket that is not within 15 feet of either side of a fire hydrant, make the misdescribed place of occurrence work for you. Show the judge proof that there is no fire hydrant within 15 feet.

More details:

You’re cruising around in the mid-summer heat, and think you just stumbled onto the perfect parking spot. Instead, you pull up a little closer and see that smug little R2D2-looking bastard smiling right at you. 15 feet is the minimum distance you can park away from a fire hydrant in most municipal codes – which may seem excessively far, especially when every inch of curb in a dense city is so valuable. But there’s a good reason for this fire hydrant parking law. Safety.

Boom. You just got hosed!
Boom. You just got hosed!

Giving the fire hydrant ample room allows emergency crews to access the water in the event of a fire. The 15 feet allows enough room for firefighters to quickly identify the location of the hydrant, and maneuver the big stiff hose in the direction needed. And if your unattended car is parked in front of that hydrant? Expect to come back to a smashed window (yes, they can), a wet car, and a very hefty fine. As well as the lasting fact that you might have prevented someone’s cat from getting rescued sooner.

“How close can I park to a fire hydrant if the curb is grey, though?”

The color of the fire hydrant has nothing to do with the parking parameters. In general, the curb should be colored red, but sometimes the city has yet to get around to it. Don’t be fooled by what appears to be an open parking spot!

Exceptions to the rule

In most municipalities, it is generally OK to stop in front of a fire hydrant if you, as the driver, are staying in the car (running) and have the ability to quickly move the vehicle, or if you are loading/unloading passengers.

Park better. Pass it on.


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