An Auckland firefighter fined for parking his engine at a bus stop has hit out at what he calls over-zealous traffic wardens.
But Auckland Transport has hit back, saying stopping for takeaways "does not constitute official business".
Station officer Brett Goodhue accepts he was technically in the wrong to tell the driver to stop there while a hungry crew member rushed into a bakery, but yesterday appealed for "some common sense" from Auckland Transport.
"It's just like them fining those people for parking on footpaths - it's ridiculous," he said in reference to last week's mass overnight ticketing of drivers for leaving their cars with wheels up on the kerbs of two narrow Orakei streets.
Mr Goodhue, who emphasised he was speaking in his private capacity rather than for the Fire Service, said he wrote unsuccessfully to Auckland Transport after receiving a $60 ticket several months ago to explain how difficult it was to find a park for a fire truck during a week day in Dominion Road.
Although the ticket was issued just before midday on December 19 last year, it took several weeks to reach the Balmoral fire station, where he was based at the time. "With us being an emergency vehicle, it is imperative we stay close to the truck so it can respond in a timely manner should there be a need," he told the Herald.
"I also explained that we did not impede any buses and could have moved if a bus had come along.
"They did not want to know - no excuse would have been good enough for them."
Mr Goodhue said he felt sorry for the 27 drivers ticketed in Orakei, as he believed they were trying to be considerate in leaving enough room for emergency service vehicles.
However, an Auckland Transport spokesman told the Herald that stopping off to buy takeaways "does not constitute official business".
"If the engine had been on official business, it would not have been ticketed.
"Our parking officer asked the firefighters what they were doing and was told they were checking fire hydrants."
The officer moved off believing they were on active duty. But when the officer saw crew members cross the road with food a few minutes later, an infringement notice was issued "because they clearly were not on active duty".
Mr Goodhue said only one firefighter left the truck and he had simply asked the warden whether he would be ticketed if checking hydrants.
Meanwhile, the Auckland Tramways Union says bus drivers are being treated with greater leniency than two years ago, when they were being fined for parking on bus stops while taking toilet breaks.
Union president Gary Froggatt said a meeting was held several months ago when Auckland Transport "agreed to back off provided the drivers were legitimately going to the toilet" after advising their bus company's radio controllers.
"Since then we haven't had any problems - none reported to me."
He believed similar leniency should be extended to fire crews who, "like bus drivers, are out on the road most of the day".