Legislation & Education Needed To Protect Accident Scenes

Firefighters are well aware that a burning building is a dangerous place where they must be constantly alert and follow well-established safety procedures. Unfortunately, many do not have that same sense of danger on the scene of motor vehicle accidents...


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The toughest may be an Illinois law that imposes a maximum $10,000 fine and loss of license for motorists who fail to proceed cautiously around parked emergency vehicles. It's known as "Scott's law" in memory of Scott Gillen, a Chicago Fire Department lieutenant who was killed when a driver ignored flares and warning lights, struck Gillen and pinned him against a ladder truck. It's not known how many arrests have been made or how many cases have been prosecuted since the law was passed two years ago.

While advocating new laws and driver education, Austin is convinced that the first step has to be improved training for firefighters on street and highway safety. "Many departments do not have standard operating procedures that cover accident scenes," he says. To help fill this void, the Institute has produced "Ten Cones of Highway Safety," a 20-minute training video that is available to fire departments at its website, www.respondersafety.com. There's no charge and it's another good starting point to help save firefighters' lives.


Hal Bruno, a Firehouse® contributing editor, retired as political director for ABC News in Washington and served almost 40 years as a volunteer firefighter. He is a director of the Chevy Chase, MD, Fire Department and chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.