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Resident fights to keep fire hydrants clear of mail trucks

LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens — Joey Vicari has been living in the same apartment building on 46th Road in Long Island City all his life.

He said life on the block has taken a turn for the worse the past few years because of the illegal parking of Postal Service trucks. The post office is just around the corner on 21st Street.

A spokesman for the Postal Service said a temporary garage closure has resulted in 70 additional mail trucks needing to park on the street. Residents complain the trucks take up a lot of spaces on the block. But what really bothers Vicari are the trucks parking in front of fire hydrants.

“I’m trying to take back my pump,” he said.

There is a single hydrant on his block. It sits directly in front of his building.

“We had a couple of little fires in this building and the fire department couldn’t get to the plug,” he said.

Vicari, a retired tow truck operator, has made it his mission to document the abuses. He’s taken dozens of pictures of mail trucks blocking hydrants and not just on his block, but on the other streets surrounding the post office.

He showed PIX11 News two mail trucks parked at hydrants in front of the post office.

“Just because they’re government doesn’t give them the right to block the fire hydrant”, he said.

However, traffic agents don’t ticket the mail trucks.

Vicari has complained to the supervisors at the post office. They tell him they have told the drivers not to block the pumps.

After Vicari contacted PIX11, we notified USPS spokesman Xavier Hernandez. He met us outside the 21st Street post office.

“We remind our employees they are supposed to abide by local law and there is never any excuse for parking at fire hydrants,” Hernandez said.

Vicari told him that “it doesn’t seem like they care. Maybe you need to start docking their salary.”

Hernandez said the regulations would be addressed again with all the employees.

It seems to have worked.

In the three weeks since our meeting with Hernandez, Vicari said that no postal trucks have blocked the hydrant.

While he is pleased, he is not ready to declare total victory. He continues to sit in his truck near the hydrant when the mail carriers return from their shift at 4 p.m., ready to confront any of them who try parking at his pump.

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