Racing to Death

 In recent years, there has been an escalation of responding fire apparatus crashing into each other and in the past few weeks it has gotten even worse. In this column, we have always tried to be honest and fair in taking on the hardest issues. This...


  In recent years, there has been an escalation of responding fire apparatus crashing into each other and in the past few weeks it has gotten even worse. In this column, we have always tried to be honest and fair in taking on the hardest issues. This column is no different, as we uncover the...


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Company officers and apparatus operators have a shared responsibility to make sure that the apparatus, equipment and firefighters arrive on scene safely. Unfortunately, I have experienced an unsafe response where the operator was not holding up his end of the bargain and the company officer was yelling at the operator to "go faster or the second due is going to beat us in." What I find really disconcerting is that in two of the incidents listed the intersections were controlled by pre-emption systems. If the intersection is controlled by pre-emption and the light is red, you must stop. Why? Because another responding apparatus has grabbed the signal from another direction before your apparatus did.

No firefighter or company officer wants to be involved in a traffic accident. That is why it is so important for the company officer and the apparatus operator to work together to achieve a quick, yet safe response.

MICHAEL WILBUR, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department, assigned to Ladder Company 27 in the Bronx, and has served on the FDNY Apparatus Purchasing Committee. He consults on a variety of apparatus-related issues around the country. For further information, access Wilbur's website at www.emergencyvehicleresponse.com.