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MERIDEN — Motorists driving on Broad Street by the fire station are encouraged to stay out of the large white box painted on the roadway.
The purpose of the white box with an “X” in the middle is to prevent motorists from stopping on it when the traffic light on Broad Street turns red. Fire officials said the initiative is going to make it easier for firetrucks to leave the station.
“When we have an alarm, we have a hard time getting out,” said Fire Chief Ken Morgan. “The traffic blocks the trucks.”
Since the box was painted three weeks ago, Morgan said, about half of the passing motorists have been staying out of the box.
“Some have figured it out,” he said.
Signs have been put up that say, “Do not block the box.”
Firefighter Brendan Noonan said it’s hard for trucks to get out when a call comes through because cars can’t go through the red light at the busy intersection with East Main Street to make room for Engine 3, Noonan said.
“It’s always been a problem,” he said.
While waiting for traffic doesn’t cause a huge delay, Noonan said, even seconds matter.
“When we’re talking about a fire or someone who’s stopped breathing, every second counts,” Noonan said.
Noonan said he hopes motorists get in the habit of not blocking the box.
“It seems to be catching on,” Noonan said.
Morgan said he’s not sure why the initiative wasn’t started sooner.
In the coming weeks, a similar box will be drawn on East Main Street near Pomerory Avenue so Engine 5 doesn’t get held up by traffic, Morgan said.
Noonan said Engine 5 and Engine 3 are the companies most affected by traffic, especially during rush hour.
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