In Texas even the smallest communities have begun requiring fire lanes on their commercial and multi-family residential properties. A single line cannot be construed as a "lane." A fire "lane" consists of two marked stripes (usually parallel) with stencils identifying the marked area as a fire lane. Fire lanes provide a clear path for both fire trucks and other emergency vehicles such as police cars and ambulances. Delineated fire lanes mandated by governmental codes give local law enforcement entities the authority to fine owners of vehicles parked within the designated property.
On the surface, fire lane striping is more difficult than typical striping because it consists of continuous lines that go onto and into both curves and curbs, all having various radii. Extra care is needed for a smooth transition from striping vertical to flat and vice versa. Stenciling is also additional and is labor intensive. Many striping companies avoid jobs requiring large quantities of fire lanes. And, based on my discussions with contractors at National Pavement Expo, the same is true of many striping contractors throughout the country.
Striping and re-striping fire lane jobs present a tremendous opportunity to increase gross revenues and improve profit margins. Fire lane striping is typically twice the cost per foot as compared to striping parking spaces. In fact, often the cost for striping a fire lane equals to or is greater than the cost of striping parking spaces. Therefore, addition of fire lane to a parking lot striping job can easily doubles the total job gross. Of course, more striping on any one job reduces overall drive time.
For ease and improved productivity, the following equipment is recommended:
- A dedicated striping machine for red paint
- Numerous LDPE stencils (not the thick kind)
- A ride-on attachment (preferably two) for striping machines
Fire lane striping might not be required in your area. Property owners, developers, and governmental entities are obviously receptive to improving public safety. Reduced insurance premiums are another benefit should you wish to promote the concept.
It should be understood that in parking lot striping, there is no right or wrong way to get the job done as there are no official rules. If your company utilizes methods that accomplish this task effectively, that is the right way for you. Hopefully this series of photos will provide some ideas on how to add fire lane striping to your services or make this niche more profitable. With the methods presented in this article, striping one mile of fire lane per hour is easily achievable.
Ken Pritchett is owner of \\\STRIPES/// Parking Lot Service, Denton, TX, and a regular presenter at National Pavement Expo and National Pavement Expo West; www.stripespls.com.