Safe Parking – Part 5: Special Safety Equipment

SUBJECT: Safety Procedures When Working In or Near Moving Traffic TOPIC: Highway Safety Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Signaling Equipment OBJECTIVE: Understand the specifications, application...


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The following Class III, Level II Highway Safety Vest Specification example was prepared for the McKinney, TX, Fire Department and is courtesy of Mifflin Valley Reflective Apparel, Shillington, PA (www.MifflinValley.com):

“Custom ANSI Safety Vest is to be constructed of 3.65oz High Visibility Polyester, Blaze Orange in color, and 3oz High Visibility ANSI Mesh, Lime/Yellow in color. Vest is ANSI/ISEA 107-99 Class 3 Compliant. Vest features a Velcro front closure as well as Velcro (color matched) break-a-way shoulders. Vest also features a mesh insert on each side of the vest, approximately 4 1/2” wide and a mesh insert, approximately 2 1/2” wide, running vertically down the center of the back. Reflective trim will consist of two 1” 3M Scotchlite silver reflective trim fused to 4.5” lime/yellow grosgrain. Grosgrain (and trim) will be placed horizontally around the mid section and one stripe running vertically over each shoulder for the entire length of the vest. In addition to the grosgrain, a 1” Silver 3M Scotchlite reflective stripe will be placed diagonally from the shoulder seam to the top of the vest opening (framing the neck area.) Additional features include a microphone tab on each upper shoulder and a pen holder placed on the left chest area between the vertical reflective stripes. Vest will be imprinted on the right front vertical stripe, between the reflective stripes to read ‘FIRE’ in black ink. In addition, an approximately 4” x 18” 3M Scotchlite silver reflective panel will be imprinted ‘McKINNEY FIRE,’ and will be placed across the back of the vest.”

HELMETS

Fire, rescue and EMS personnel working in or near moving traffic should be required by their agency to always wear protective head gear. Structural fire helmets are most appropriate for fire department personnel. In addition to the obvious head protection afforded by the helmet, under low light or nighttime incidents, the reflective trim material that exists on all sides of the helmet significantly increases the motorist’s recognition that a person is in front of them.

SIGNS

Section 8.4.27 of the most recent edition of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 1500 now requires deployment of a special advance warning sign when fire responders work in or near moving traffic. To address this requirement, fire department are purchasing and assigning fluorescent pink retro-reflective pop-up signs to their fire apparatus. These advance-warning signs are designed to be quickly deployed upstream of any emergency incident. Costing approximately $250 for the basic unit, these signs use the official DOT-specific retro-reflective fluorescent pink to signify emergency warning. High-visibility fluorescent pink is the newly designated color for highway use nationwide to indicate emergency situations or conditions ahead.

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Photo By Ron Moore
One solution to carrying eight 28-inch traffic cones within the limited storage space on most fire apparatus are the newest “collapsible” cones. Four 28-inch-tall Pop-Up cones only occupy a 12-inch-high stack when stored.

The MUTCD guidelines specify minimum 36-by-36 inch dimensions for the sign when used at incidents with “moderately low volumes and speeds.” The larger size, 48 by 48 inches, is recommended for use at incidents on higher speed highways.

TRAFFIC CONES

Even those orange cones that everyone is so familiar with have DOT specifications covering their design and use. The function of a line of traffic cones is to warn approaching traffic of a change in their normal traffic pattern. Officially called a “taper,” this row of cones guides the motorist through the required lane changes or temporary road detours.

To be compliant with the MUTCD, any traffic cone used at a nighttime incident or at a crash scene where the posted speed limit is 45 mph or greater, must now be 28 inches tall and have two reflective bands around their tops. When deployed, they should be closer to each other than the speed limit in feet; i.e., closer than 45 feet when deployed in a 45-mph speed roadway, etc.

FLARES

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Photo By Ron Moore
When flares are placed near a traffic cone, the light given off by the flare not only warns upstream traffic, but illuminates the cone as well.