Nov 08 Firehouse Mag. Article "POV's Kill"
Just to throw the though out there to see if anyone else would agree, Mike Wilbur wrote an article for Firehouse Magazine (Nov 08) EV Ops section titled "Warning: POV's Kill". It seems to me that maybe that should be titled "Warning: POV Drivers Kill". Not to get into symantics here, but a vehicle never killed anyone. It's usually been the immature, reckless, untrained, or irresponsible drivers of the POV that cause the accident that kills someone. Two of the Three examples given were of FF's age 25 and under (one being a cadet!!). I don't know the statistics, but I would venture a guess that a majority of POV deaths occur when the driver is 25 or younger. (post legitimate stats if you have 'em)
I've seen and heard A LOT of debate on POV responses and POV light and siren authorizations, but no one EVER seems to get to the root of the problem; the guy behind the wheel. I can understand that it might be hard to determine an individual's level of responsibility; however, age, training, and driving history should be a MAJOR deciding factor. I'll even admit the way I drove my POV when I was 24 is vastly different than today. Simply put...I've matured.
So, instead of claiming POV's Kill or Light and Sirens are bad for POV because people die in accident, let's look at the solution and create better guidelines (or even laws).
For example Under 25, not state certified, not driver/operator certified, and/or haven't taken an EVOC course...no lights and sirens. When responding to the station or scene without light and siren, obey traffic laws...AND ENFORCE IT at the department level! If that doesn't work, have your local PD write up a warning or even a ticket with appropriate evidence or written statement by a complainant. Do a better job of background checks and DL checks on applicants. If an applicant to your department has a history of speeding, what do you think will happen when he/she is responding for the fire department. Or, to go WAY out on a limb, perhapse ALL members of a department should be required to take an EVOC course within a given time after employment, then make EVOC a part of your deparments regular training cycle so your members are fresh on the topic.
I'm sure there will be some wildly varying opinions on this (including some that won't like my thoughts) but I'm curious to see what other people in the service think. Don't hesitate to put your rank and years of service on your post either. Me, Senior FF, 8 years.
Just Say No to Red Lights
I think it's about risk minimization. As a FD officer I can control the personnel driving the apparatus I'm in. I can also ensure that "problem driver's" don't drive until we feel confident they're safe to do so. We have little control over POV responses. We're not in the right hand seat of Johnny's S10 pick-up to tell him to slow down on the way to the grass fire.
The proof in why most POV's don't need red lights (or any color) is in they very limited effectiveness vs. their huge liability. Years ago I followed one our our ambulances to the hospital (4 miles away). They ran code three, I went "cold". We travelled through 6 lighted intersections, not all red, not all green. They arrived long enough ahead of me to sign off at the ED doors as I arrived at the campus entrance .2 of a mile. At that point I was sold that "hot" runs make up a very limited amount of time vs. normal traffic. Today with my Garmin, I can try and beat the posted speed system it uses to predict my arrival time some 50 miles away only to gain 1 to 2 minutes in 50 miles. And in my unmarked POV likely I drive faster than we allow code three apparatus to drive. Do the math, code three saves some time, obviously traffic can be a large factor. But when you have no implicit "right of way" when using just a warning light, you will lose most of the gain and cause more confusion and irritation to civilian drivers.
1. drivers are confused when they suddenly notice a red light approaching them, what do they do? What if they're in an intersection? If they get hit, who's at fault?
2. People that feel they "need" red lights tend to be the ones who should least have them. The proof is in the statistics. Dead kids. Never mind the civilians.
3. When you allow a person to run a redlight in their POV you are in essence making their POV one of your emergency vehicles albeit and "unauthorized" emergency vehicle. You're saying to them, yes you can use your POV to drive to my incident or FD visibly identifying yourself as my employee. Do you inspect their vehicles? We inspect our FD vehicles. How are the brakes in Johnny's S10? Is the frost off the windows? Is he wearing his seatbelt? Does he drive safely? Far too many things are not in your control.
We kill too many brothers and sister period. This is a segment we can control much better. Losing the POV lights and requiring rules of the road responses would be a good start.
Really look no further than the math! Get a GPS and find what the average speed of an average response trip is for your Code Three apparatus, then measure the average speed of the same trip going cold. Given the technology, we can all be rocket scientists!
For additional thought...
It seems to me that everyone is quick to blame something/someone, but no one every seems to want to come up with a solution for the problem that works for everyone. Unfortunately (for this purpose), a majority of the FD's in the USA are volly staffed whcih means POV use will ALWAYS be around.