University of Extrication Safe Parking - Part 3

SUBJECT: Safety Procedures When Working In or Near Moving Traffic TOPIC: Driver Responsibilities for Apparatus and Vehicle Positioning OBJECTIVE: Understand how apparatus and emergency vehicle...


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Once at an incident scene and in a blocking position, the operator must initiate stationary light shedding procedures. Depending upon department protocol and apparatus design, things should happen once the parking brake is set on all major apparatus. Smaller vehicles such as police cruisers and chief's vehicles typically require the operator to manually control their stationary lighting.

With the requirements of the latest edition of NFPA apparatus standards in place, fire vehicles now 'shed' their white color strobe warning lights once the vehicle stops at a scene. In addition, most roof-mounted warning lightbar manufacturers now offer the option of shedding all forward-facing lights so to not distract traffic moving in the opposite direction.

Highway safety engineers also strongly advocate the use of amber (yellow) warning lights instead of red on emergency vehicles parked at highway scenes. New NFPA 1901 complaint apparatus have amber rear warning lights specifically for this purpose. Studies show that the motoring public psychologically responds to amber lights better, thinking of it as just another highway construction or repair project. They don't "rubberneck" as much at the scene when everything is yellow.

Introduction to Part 4: Personal Survival Skills

Now, you've arrived at a highway crash scene. Your vehicle is in a blocking position and light shedding procedures have been accomplished. It's time to get out onto the street and deploy some advance warning devices. In Part 4 of this series, we'll address personal survival skills for responders working in or near moving traffic.

Light-Shedding Checklist

Opti-ComR. All vehicles equipped with traffic pre-emption devices such as 3M's Opti-ComR emitter system must have the emitter turned off once parked at the scene.

Headlights OFF. Headlights, including flashing high beam lamps, should be turned off to prevent blinding of motorists approaching from the opposite direction.

White strobes OFF. During the light shedding process, the driver of the vehicle should turn off all strobe lights mounted along the front, rear or sides of the vehicle.

Ground lights ON. To aid in illuminating the area around the emergency vehicle, operators should actually turn on any external ground lighting. These lamps, aimed towards the ground all around the underside of the vehicle, provide improved area lighting and help to identify the vehicle's size and position to approaching traffic.

Amber arrow board/directional lights ON. If your vehicle is equipped with a sequential, directional arrow board, these units should be turned on and set to the proper signal pattern. The reality of these units however is that their series of amber lights are easily overwhelmed by all the other lights that a motorist sees as they approach a scene. Because these lighting units do not have a large arrowhead, they are typically ineffective as signaling and warning devices.

Compartment lights ON. The driver/operator of major fire and rescue vehicles should assure that interior compartment lights are turned on. With these lights activated, when a responder opens a compartment to obtain equipment, the inside area will already be illuminated. In addition, if a compartment door is left open at an nighttime emergency scene, the interior lighting will enhance recognition of the emergency vehicle to the approaching motorist.


Ron Moore, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a battalion chief and the training officer for the McKinney, TX, Fire Department. He also authors a monthly online article in the Firehouse.com "MembersZone" and serves as the Forum Moderator for the extrication section of the Firehouse.com website. Moore can be contacted directly at Rmoore@firehouse.com.