Indiana neighborhoods with 1 entrance, exit daunting for first responders

Regulations vary by community

INDIANAPOLIS - The Call 6 Investigators found hundreds of neighborhoods all over central Indiana with only one entrance and exit, creating challenges for emergency personnel trying to respond.

The night of the Richmond Hill explosion, frustration could be heard on firefighters’ radio traffic.

Special Section: Richmond Hill one year later  -- http://bit.ly/RxMW0g

"I have at least three houses. Access is going to be an issue here," an Indianapolis firefighter said. "We have a man trapped in the back. We need hoses back here now to protect him so we can get him out."

Richmond Hill is one of hundreds of neighborhoods with only one access point, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney learned.

Kenney found whether these setups are allowed depends on which city or town you live in, when your subdivision was built and how many homes you have in your neighborhood.

Wayne Township Fire Capt. Mike Pruitt said there are at least 20 subdivisions in his township with only one entrance and exit, including Parc Estates North, just off 21st Street.

Pruitt said neighborhoods with limited access are a concern.

"They absolutely are," said Pruitt. “We try to identify these neighborhoods, keep everyone informed of what's going on with them."

Pruitt said the subdivisions with only one in and out create problems for emergency crews, as well as homeowners.

"We do run into some people who feel their need to get to work is more important than their neighbor's house burning down," said Pruitt.

Zoning laws vary throughout central Indiana.

For example, in Avon, a small subdivision with less than 50 lots must have one street access point, 50 to 199 lots must have two street accesses and 200 lots or more must have three street accesses.

Pruitt said the ideal subdivision has lots of room, wide streets and cul-de-sacs and few dead ends.

"The more access, the better off we are in getting emergency vehicles in and out," said Pruitt.

Emergency crews plan for the worst, whether the disaster is natural or man-made.

State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson told RTV6 it’s important for families to develop a plan of action.

"For anyone who lives in a neighborhood, no matter how many entrances and exits there is, it's important for the family to develop their own plan,” said Greeson. “They need to be able to sustain themselves for up to 72 hours with water, nonperishable food, medication."

Bobby McDonald lives in Thornridge, an Avon subdivision with only one way in and one way out.

"I like it," said McDonald. "It keeps this area back here really quiet."

The ex-military man also stays prepared for the unexpected by stockpiling days' worth of water and food.

"This one is sloppy Joes," said McDonald, showing his ready-to-eat meals.

McDonald also keeps his neighbors' phone numbers and has a plan if he needs to evacuate.

"You can cut through these houses and get out to the highway," said McDonald.

Firefighters say if there’s a fire in your neighborhood and they’re blocking you, be patient.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security has a checklist on its website for you to get your family ready for a disaster -- http://www.in.gov/dhs/2779.htm

Follow Kara Kenney on Twitter: @karakenney6 | Facebook: KaraKenneyNews

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