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  1. #1
    Forum Member cubachief502's Avatar
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    Default POV used as Emergency Vehicle...

    I hope that I am not beating a dead horse, but I have come to the conclusion that some research needs to be put into this question. Therefore, I would appreciate the input of officers and firefighters from all the states in regard to their applicable state laws. Further, I would like to see any local SOP (G) that you department may have in place.

    Lastly, where might good statistics be found on accidents involving volunteer firefighters and POV responses be found? I don't believe we are going to find much on the last point, but it is worth the request I believe.

    Thanks for your time!

    C. R. Vaughan


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    We need to start by clarifying the question.

    First, the use of the words "emergency vehicle" in my state refers to a vehicle authorized to utilize lights and sirens. These are not allowed for all POV's and are basically just for chief officers' POV's and actual department vehicles.

    All firefighters may utilize red or red and white lights when authorized by a written certificate signed by their chief. These lights merely "request" the right of way unlike authorized emergency vehicle which "demand" the right of way. The use of any lights or lights/audibles is of course restricted to actual emergency response.

    The use of lights grants no extension of driver's rights unlike authorized emergency vehicles which are allowed certain rights (exceed posted speed limit, wrong way on one way streets, drive in opposing lanes, proceed past redlights and stop signs of course all being done with "due regard").

    We do not issue redlight certificates to our firefighters as we find they are more hassle than their worth. The public perception is that POV's are always speeding when they see the redlight. The lights cause confusion at stop signs and lighted intersections as the public is not sure what to do? Pull out of the way only to have the POV sit through the redlight? Or stay put looking like a chump blocking a fireman? Our traffic is not so bad that hitting a few lights will change the response greatly, so the risk of all other issues is not worth it.

  3. #3
    Forum Member pasobuff's Avatar
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    This is what the NYS V&T Law has to say -

    ß 375 (41). Colored and flashing lights.

    41. Colored and flashing lights. The provisions of this subdivision shall govern the affixing and display of lights on vehicles, other than those lights required by law. 1. No light, other than a white light, and no revolving, rotating, flashing, oscillating or constantly moving white light shall be affixed to, or displayed on any vehicle except as prescribed herein.

    2. Red lights and certain . One or more red or combination red and white lights, or one white light which must be a revolving, rotating, flashing, oscillating or constantly moving light, may be affixed to an authorized emergency vehicle, and such lights may be displayed on an authorized emergency vehicle when such vehicle is engaged in an emergency operation, and upon a fire vehicle while returning from an alarm of fire or other emergency.

    3. Amber lights. a. One or more amber lights may be affixed to a hazard vehicle, and such a light or lights which display an amber light visible to all approaching traffic under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of five hundred feet from such vehicle shall be displayed on a hazard vehicle when such vehicle is engaged in a hazardous operation. Such light or lights shall not be required to be displayed during daylight hours provided at least two red flags visible from a distance of five hundred feet are placed both in or on the front of, and to or on the rear of the vehicle and two such flags are placed to each side of the vehicle open to traffic. Such lights or flags need not be displayed on the vehicle when the vehicle is operating, or parked, within a barricaded work area and said lights or flags are displayed on the barricade. The provisions of this subdivision shall not prohibit the temporary affixing and display of an amber light to be used as a warning on a disabled motor vehicle or on a motor vehicle while it is stopped on a highway while engaged in an operation which would restrict, impede or interfere with the normal flow of traffic.

    b. In any city in this state having a population of one million or more, one amber light may be affixed to any motor vehicle owned or operated by a volunteer member of a civilian or crime patrol provided such volunteer civilian or crime patrol member has been authorized in writing to so affix an amber light by the police commissioner of the municipality in which he patrols, which authorization shall be subject to revocation at any time by the police commissioner who issued the same or his successor in office. Such amber light may be operated by such volunteer civilian or crime patrol member in such a vehicle only when engaged in a patrol operation as defined and authorized by rules and regulations promulgated by the police commissioner and only in such a manner and at such times as may be authorized by the police commissioner pursuant to said rules and regulations.

    4. Blue light. a. One blue light may be affixed to any motor vehicle owned by a volunteer member of a fire department or on a motor vehicle owned by a member of such person's family residing in the same household or by a business enterprise in which such person has a proprietary interest or by which he or she is employed, provided such volunteer firefighter has been authorized in writing to so affix a blue light by the chief of the fire department or company of which he or she is a member, which authorization shall be subject to revocation at any time by the chief who issued the same or his or her successor in office. Such blue light may be displayed exclusively by such volunteer firefighter on such a vehicle only when engaged in an emergency operation. The use of blue and red light combinations shall be prohibited on all fire vehicles. The use of blue lights on fire vehicles shall be prohibited and the use of blue lights on vehicles shall be restricted for use only by a volunteer firefighter except as otherwise provided for in subparagraph b of this paragraph.

    b. In addition to the red and white lights authorized to be displayed pursuant to paragraph two of this subdivision, one or more blue lights or combination blue and red lights or combination blue, red and white lights may be affixed to a police vehicle, provided that such blue light or lights shall be displayed on a police vehicle for rear projection only. In the event that the trunk or rear gate of a police vehicle obstructs or diminishes the visibility of other emergency lighting on such vehicle, a blue light may be affixed to and displayed from the trunk, rear gate or interior of such vehicle. Such lights may be displayed on a police vehicle when such vehicle is engaged in an emergency operation. Nothing contained in this subparagraph shall be deemed to authorize the use of blue lights on police vehicles unless such vehicles also display one or more red or combination red and white lights as otherwise authorized in this subdivision.

    c. The commissioner is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations relating to the use, placement, power and display of blue lights on a police vehicle.

    5. Green light. One green light may be affixed to any motor vehicle owned by a member of a volunteer ambulance service, or on a motor vehicle owned by a member of such person's family, or by a business enterprise in which such person has a proprietary interest or by which he is employed, provided such member has been authorized in writing to so affix a green light by the chief officer of such service as designated by the members thereof. Such green light may be displayed by such member of a volunteer ambulance service only when engaged in an emergency operation.

    As used in this paragraph volunteer ambulance service means: a. a non-profit membership corporation (other than a fire corporation) incorporated under or subject to the provisions of the membership corporations law, or any other law, operating its ambulance or ambulances on a non-profit basis for the convenience of the members thereof and their families or of the community or under a contract with a county, city, town or village pursuant to section one hundred twenty-two-b of the general municipal law; or

    b. an unincorporated association of persons operating its ambulance or ambulances on a non-profit basis for the convenience of the members and their families or of the community.

    6. The commissioner is authorized to promulgate regulations with respect to the affixing and display of colored lights and to promulgate specifications with respect to such lights.

    7. The provisions of this subdivision forty-one shall not be applicable to vehicles from other states or from the Dominion of Canada which have entered this state to render police, fire or civil defense aid, or ambulance service, while such vehicles are here or are returning to their home stations if the lights on such vehicles comply with the laws of their home states or the Dominion of Canada and are displayed in this state in the same manner permitted by their home states or the Dominion of Canada, nor shall the provisions of this subdivision forty-one be deemed to amend, supersede or in any manner affect the provisions of the New York state defense emergency act as now in force or as it may be amended from time to time.

    8. The provisions of this subdivision shall not be applicable to the driver of a vehicle from another state or foreign jurisdiction which vehicle has colored lights affixed but not revolving, rotating, flashing, oscillating or constantly moving if the lights on such vehicle comply with the laws of the state or home foreign jurisdiction in which the vehicle is registered.
    A fire vehicle may not be a personally owned vehicle in NYS as per the V&T definition. The Emergency Operation definition may apply - but that does not make the vehicle an emergency vehicle by definition as a rule.

    An authorized emergency vehicle is; Every ambulance, police vehicle, fire vehicle, civil emergency vehicle, emergency ambulance service vehicle, environmental response vehicle, sanitation patrol vehicle, hazardous materials vehicle and ordinance disposal vehicle of the armed services of the United States.

  4. #4
    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cubachief502 View Post
    I hope that I am not beating a dead horse, but I have come to the conclusion that some research needs to be put into this question. Therefore, I would appreciate the input of officers and firefighters from all the states in regard to their applicable state laws. Further, I would like to see any local SOP (G) that you department may have in place.

    Lastly, where might good statistics be found on accidents involving volunteer firefighters and POV responses be found? I don't believe we are going to find much on the last point, but it is worth the request I believe.

    Thanks for your time!

    C. R. Vaughan


    Mr. Vaughan,


    The very first thing you need to do or the department you are with in Alabama, is consult with the City/County Attorney and the motor vehicles laws of the State of Alabama. The state highway patrol is a good source.

    In Virginia, members of a fire department can run a red light in their POV. This being said, You have to buy that light. You have to obey all traffic laws as would anyone who doesn't have a red light on the dash or roof of the POV.

    If running a POV as an emergency vehicle, I think your automobile insurance company is going to say WHOA THERE SON, your car or pickup is NOT an emergency vehicle and therefore you insurance doesn't cover you as if it is a just a regular old car or truck. Now if you want to have it classed as an emergency vehicle, the insurance is going to reclassified and you will have to pay more.


    You may also want to do a search on this by using the search feature on this page.

    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

  5. #5
    Forum Member pasobuff's Avatar
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    As for response - a blue light is used for volunteer firefighters here - and it is a courtesy light ONLY. It does not take away any responsibility of the operator of the vehicle to respect and obey all traffic signals. It also does NOT require other motorists to pull over and stop to allow you to pass.

    Also, the authorization to run a blue (or green for that matter) light may be revoked at any time by a chief officer.

    Personally I stopped running one a while ago, it didn't make that much difference in my response time -and our SOP was to go to the fire house first anyway.......in my old department, I ran a blue light, but we responded to the scene as the firehouses were staffed by career personnel and the apparatus would be gone as soon as the call was dispatched.

  6. #6
    Forum Member cubachief502's Avatar
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    Many thanks for the responses so far... I am attempting to do some research to address some issues in the law here in Alabama. Statistics that are concrete regarding response times are what I am looking for in addition to the laws. Further, I would like to look at the difference between rural and urban areas in regard to this issue.

    Thanks for all of the answers so far!

  7. #7
    Forum Member Doorbreaker's Avatar
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    This question has a LOT of answers depending on the State your located in.
    NY does allow POVs as emergency vehicles. Most of the Chiefs vehicles in the volunteer service are POVs. They are Authorized Emergency Vehicles under the states laws and have reds/sirens.
    The insurance gets interesting on them. Basically they are covered under the owners insurance UNTIL the department is toned out. At that time they become Emergency Vehicles and are covered under the departments insurance.

  8. #8
    Forum Member Ambrose33's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cubachief502 View Post
    Many thanks for the responses so far... I am attempting to do some research to address some issues in the law here in Alabama. Statistics that are concrete regarding response times are what I am looking for in addition to the laws. Further, I would like to look at the difference between rural and urban areas in regard to this issue.

    Thanks for all of the answers so far!
    I understand your issues and this can be a tricky one becuase you get the over zealous member who wants to make their vehicle into something that NASA can see from space. In New Jersey you are allowed 1 blue light and a electronic horn in your POV and signed blue light form from your town. The blue light is only a courtesy light and you have to follow all traffic laws. For Fire Chiefs you can have red lights and a siren in your POV but you need permission from police and state. I've heard of Fire Departments now thinking of banning the use of blue lights in POV's because of issues with abusing speeds and causing more danger getting to the firehouse then actually getting to the scene. Also I know Departments that have banned them completely. I've done my own studies and from where I respond from, using a blue light only saves me 30-50 seconds of response time. Its your department you can make up your own POV policy. My company does not have one since we have had very few issues with members and when we have we dealt with it through speaking to them.
    Stay safe!

  9. #9
    Forum Member Ambrose33's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doorbreaker View Post
    The insurance gets interesting on them. Basically they are covered under the owners insurance UNTIL the department is toned out. At that time they become Emergency Vehicles and are covered under the departments insurance.
    Were the same in NJ.
    Stay safe!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doorbreaker View Post
    Basically they are covered under the owners insurance UNTIL the department is toned out. At that time they become Emergency Vehicles and are covered under the departments insurance.
    Get that in writing from the insurance carrier for your FD. Otherwise, good luck!! We always thought we were covered. the agent told us for years, your covered, your covered don't worry. Guess what, started looking into it and we were not. You need a separate rider for the coverage. It's not a lot of $$ but you should get it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yankee750 View Post
    Get that in writing from the insurance carrier for your FD. Otherwise, good luck!! We always thought we were covered. the agent told us for years, your covered, your covered don't worry. Guess what, started looking into it and we were not. You need a separate rider for the coverage. It's not a lot of $$ but you should get it.
    Found the same thing in our state for insurance provided by a state municipal insurance program that most FD"s use. We bought the riders.

  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber EFD840's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cubachief502 View Post
    Many thanks for the responses so far... I am attempting to do some research to address some issues in the law here in Alabama. Statistics that are concrete regarding response times are what I am looking for in addition to the laws. Further, I would like to look at the difference between rural and urban areas in regard to this issue.

    Thanks for all of the answers so far!
    Cuba, you're not going to like my answers but I hope you will use the information I'm about to post.

    In short, it is almost impossible to use a POV as an Emergency Vehicle in Alabama. The code of Alabama defines an "Authorized Emergency Vehicle" as Such fire department vehicles, police vehicles and ambulances as are publicly owned, and such other publicly or privately owned vehicles as are designated by the Director of Public Safety or the chief of police of an incorporated city.. This can be found in Section 32-1-1.1 of the Code of Alabama.

    Section 32-5A-115 defines the use of warning lights and says (in part) Authorized emergency vehicles shall be equipped with at least one lighted lamp exhibiting a colored light as hereinafter provided visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of 500 feet to the front of such vehicle and a siren, exhaust whistle or bell capable of giving an audible signal. The color of the lighted lamp exhibited by police vehicles may be red or blue and the color of the lighted lamp exhibited by the fire department and other authorized emergency vehicles, including ambulances, shall be red. No vehicle other than a police vehicle will use a blue light. An amber or yellow light may be installed on any vehicle or class of vehicles designated by the Director of Public Safety, but such light shall serve as a warning or caution light only, and shall not cause other vehicles to yield the right-of-way. This provision shall not operate to relieve the driver of an emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway nor shall it protect the driver of any such vehicle from the consequences of an arbitrary exercise of such right-of-way.

    In order for a privately owned vehicle to be considered an emergency vehicle, it must be designated as such by a police chief or the DPS director. I'm all but certain that the next FF POV the DPS director designates as an emergency vehicle will be the first one. You will also be hard pressed to find a police chief willing to do so because they're indirectly assuming liability for the operation of that vehicle. Note that the county sheriff CANNOT make the designation.

    Nothing says you can't carry equipment in, or respond to a scene in a POV. That's your choice. What you can't do is run lights & siren, exceed the speed limit, or do any of the other things that are legal in the big red truck.

    I know tons of Alabama FFs break these laws on a daily basis. I also know that LE usually extends them a great deal of professional courtesy, but I've posted the law. Doing something because you can get away with it means your only one accident or angry trooper away from very messy problems.

    My advice is play by the rules.

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    In LA, once we are toned, POVs, if displaying red lights, become emergency vehicles under the law.

    Our department covers the deductables if they are involved in an MVA if we determine they are operating within the department's responses guidelines. If they are not, the members are on thier own.

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    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    I will let you Google the laws....if you want some SOG's PM or email me.
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
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    Default Texas Law

    Sec. 547.702. ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR AUTHORIZED EMERGENCY VEHICLES.

    (a) An authorized emergency vehicle may be equipped with a siren, exhaust whistle, or bell:
    (1) of a type approved by the department; and
    (2) that emits a sound audible under normal conditions at a distance of at least 500 feet.

    (b) The operator of an authorized emergency vehicle shall use the siren, whistle, or bell when necessary to warn other vehicle operators or pedestrians of the approach of the emergency vehicle.

    (c) Except as provided by this section, an authorized emergency vehicle shall be equipped with signal lamps that:
    (1) are mounted as high and as widely spaced laterally as practicable;
    (2) display four alternately flashing red lights, two located on the front at the same level and two located on the rear at the same level; and
    (3) emit a light visible at a distance of 500 feet in normal sunlight.

    (d) A private vehicle operated by a volunteer firefighter responding to a fire alarm or a medical emergency may, but is not required to, be equipped with signal lamps that comply with the requirements of Subsection (c).

    (e) A private vehicle operated by a volunteer firefighter responding to a fire alarm or a medical emergency may be equipped with a signal lamp that is temporarily attached to the vehicle roof and flashes a red light visible at a distance of at least 500 feet in normal sunlight.

    (f) A police vehicle may, but is not required to, be equipped with signal lamps that comply with Subsection (c).

  16. #16
    Forum Member HammerheadMedicFF's Avatar
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    To add to the above Texas law post.

    It's generally up to each department and each chief as to whether or not to allow the FF's to display the lights. However, these lights are, from what I understand, only allowed to be used while inside the boundaries of that individuals fire/response district.

    Very few FD's in the area I work in allow their individual members to run lights.

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