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Thread: Plausible Scenario - Approaching Emergency Vehicle

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    Default Plausible Scenario - Approaching Emergency Vehicle

    This is a question (scenario) asked especially of the engineers. I'm a member of a local community Citizens Fire Academy Alumni Association in Texas helping our Fire Department educate the community on fire safety and awareness. During my ride-outs with the various crews I've learned to appreciate the challenges the engineers have in maneuvering apparatus around drivers who appallingly seem ignorant of the rules of the road concerning emergency vehicle operations.

    One scenario, though, is a bit of a mystery and the Texas Motor Vehicle Law seems silent regarding it - and there even seems to be some debate among firefighters. Suppose you are the lead vehicle in the left lane at a traffic stop (red light), the right lane is occupied, there is no other lane through which an emergency vehicle can go around you, and the traffic light is NOT Opticon-equipped. An approaching emergency vehicle is responding Code 3 to an incident and comes up behind you. What should you as the driver do? I'm told it is against the law to proceed into the intersection against a red light, and in fact is dangerous.

    From an engineer's perspective, what is the right answer and where in the motor laws or department regulations is such a scenario addressed? I want to provide a definitive answer, if possible, at our next CFA class. Thanks so much, and by the way, I really appreciate all that the firefighters/paramedics do for the citizens of this country!

    Jud Ladd

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    I'm betting that there's no one who wants to put pen to paper on the scenario as nearly any answer may cause an accident. As an officer I want my driver to take every precaution not to be trapped in that exact situation. Often we proceed into the oncoming lane (slowly with due regard) before arriving at the median area. We don't have any continuously divided roads with physical barriers (curbs, bollards, guardrails). I'd be hesitant to be the driver or officer in an apparatus that is behind a motorist at this scenario with audibles going. I would not want 12 people to point the finger at the FD and say that given the situation the apparatus was "pushing them into the intersection" with lights and sirens. Somewhere, someone said "Do no harm"...

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    As RFD stated, we are taught not to "push" another driver into the intersection with the lights and siren. We try to know our area and look ahead enough to avoid that type of situation. We might use a turn lane, or if possible the oncoming traffic lane, although there are very few places in our area that we can do that. If I got myself in that situation, I would turn off the siren and wait until the log-jam opened up enough to mover. Laying on the siren and horn does nothing if the traffice doesn't have any place to go.

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    Law in the Commonwealth of Pa is "move to the right for sirens and lights" when physically able to do so. if you cannot move, then do not, or move when you are physically able to do so. As others have said, I as a D/O would buck traffic in the oncoming lane (with due regard)
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    The most important thing is to choose a course of action and stay with it. It's never a bad idea just to sit still. Let the apparatus driver make the decisions from there.
    WBFD25 likes this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EastKyFF View Post
    It's never a bad idea just to sit still. Let the apparatus driver make the decisions from there.
    110% agree. You wouldn't believe the number of times in a day when we wish that the vehicle(s) would just sit still rather than moving into an open travel lane, forcing us to make an evasive maneuver.

    Both of my department strictly prohibit pushing vehicles through intersections, even if that means shutting the lights and sirens off behind traffic. Thanks to Opticom, that rarely happens, but it's still the case occasionally.
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    It is more of a case by case situation, for what will happen

    A few variables would come into account of what to do, so in a way there really is no difinative answer
    Safety first, sop's

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    In Texas you are allowed to move when an emergency vehicle is behind you at a red light and the emergency vehicle has multiple flashing red lights and an audible siren. However, the driver must check to make sure the intersection is clear. Usually the driver of the emergency vehicle will signal you with a honk. Law Enforcement can pull you over for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle if you do not try to move. Best thing is to turn tight right or left so you're not in the intersection completely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ewiles View Post
    In Texas you are allowed to move when an emergency vehicle is behind you at a red light and the emergency vehicle has multiple flashing red lights and an audible siren. However, the driver must check to make sure the intersection is clear. Usually the driver of the emergency vehicle will signal you with a honk. Law Enforcement can pull you over for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle if you do not try to move. Best thing is to turn tight right or left so you're not in the intersection completely.
    You missed the crux of the question.....what if you are at a busy, multi-lane intersection and all of the lanes of travel in your direction are full of cars waiting to proceed? What if you, as the motorist are in the far left hand lane, and cannot move to the right??
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Our fire trucks, support vehicles and the major intersections in my community have the Opticom traffic pre-emption system.. with the Opticom on, the light turns green, we proceed to the scene.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    If the Opticom does not trigger the traffic signal, then we will see if it's safe to cross into the on-coming traffic lane, if that is not an option, then we will shut down the siren and wait for the green light and traffic to clear.

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    Run into this scenerio often. Usually on a one way access road, so there is no option of bucking traffic- which by policy we are allowed to do at 25 mph. My method as the apparatus operator is to turn off the siren (usually just letting the Q wind down) and let the traffic ahead of me work itself out as we patiently sit there and watch for our break.

    Advise to the driver, legally I would wait until the light turns green, and then the car infront of me gets out of the way. In practice, if he proceeds to nose into the intersection, I follow closely and get into a position to block for him from the traffic comming from the left until they all stop, then I prodeed.

    Hope that helps you.
    ~Drew
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