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  1. #1
    BURNSEMS
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    Default Emergency Warning Devices for Vol Private Vehicles

    There is currently a debate in our area over the Use of Emergency Warning Devices on Volunteer F/F Personal Vehicles. Our Department currently does NOT allow our Volunteers to utilize Emergency Lights I would like to hear the GOOD, BAD AND OTHERWISE

  2. #2
    PTFD21
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Hi Jeff -
    Well it is one of those topics that yoou will not get a definintive answer on. I have seen good and bad drivers using emergency lights. If it is decided to allow the use of them, then a major point should be made of the consequences of driving like an idiot and thinking you are invincible. I am a paid on call firefighter with a combination dept.. Our officers run much of the time by theirselves, so it can be imperative that we get their as soon as possible [the lights do help!]. It is important that your f/f's know the importance of being responsible with those lights and siren and not endangering their lives or that of the public by driving recklessly. Another point to drive home to them is that "lights and sirens,do not a forcefield make." in a personal vehicle or fire apparatus. Many of the civilian drivers will not hear you, see you or pay any attention to you, no matter how many lights and noisemakers your vehicle has.
    OK enough babbling on,hope this helps.

    Stay Safe
    ED C.
    <a href="http://www.freeyellow.com/members8/ptfd21/index.htm"> Pittsfield Twp. F.D. </a>

    [This message has been edited by PTFD21 (edited October 24, 1999).]

  3. #3
    BVFD
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Our dept. does allow the use of lights, but many in our area don't. I believe that with proper training in operating emergency vehicles, and printed and enforced rules about there use on personal vehicles, it should be safe to allow them.

  4. #4
    st34ff
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    In my department, which is about half-way between Phillidelphia and Allentown, Pa, we are allowed to use blue lights only. And belive me, they do help me trying to get to the firehouse. But, like everyone else says, take the privliage responsibly. That is the only way I can put it. I hope this will help you.

    Kyle

    www.chalfontfireco.8m.com

  5. #5
    FFtazUFC3
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    The State of Md does not allow FF's to utilize anyform of lighting or siren device. With the exception of the top 5 officers in the dept. I believe that w/ proper ed. and training, ie: a good EVOC program, they should be allowed. Lord knows it would drop several minutes off mine and others response times.

  6. #6
    Scoco
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    We don't have any prohibition against emergency lights in private vehicles. Per state law (Illinois) we can only use flashing blue lights; blue/red/white combos are only permitted on emergency vehicles. And like others, I have seen some asinine driving by FF/EMTs in personal vehicles on the way to a scene. All you can do is to try to talk some sense into them before they cause an accident.

  7. #7
    S. Cook
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Jeff,

    I've seen/heard more bad PR involving POV's running hot to the station and to the scene than any other topic. I guess my advice is are your members smart/mature/grown enough to drive their POV responsibly with warning lights. If they are go for it. If not, don't let them drive the apparatus either.

    If you haven't already, call the DPS office in your area and get a copy of Vernons Civil Statutes too.

  8. #8
    TommyB
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    I am in an all volunteer rural dept, so we do have a need to respond to the station as quickly as possible. In NC we are allowed to use red lights on our POV. The only time I typically use mine is when I meet traffic. It does definitely help (in most cases) to allow me to get around traffic. Of course, we have all come up on those people on the road who are either oblivious to the fact that there is a POV w/red light and/or a large fire truck w/lights and sirens on behind them. My biggest concern with the use of lights, etc on POVs is the younger guys who are inexperienced drivers to begin with. Add in the adrenaline and the red light and you have a potentially lethal combination. I would strongly urge your dept (if it has not already) to have a written policy about responding in POV and what the acceptable limits are (ie...going 100mph is never acceptable, nor is exceeding the speed limit to get to a dumpster fire).

  9. #9
    Member

    Join Date
    Feb 1999
    Location
    Roswell, GA, USA
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    58

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    I first entered the fire service in Pennsylvania, then was in Texas for 9 years, and now am back in Penna. It's an interesting topic. From personal experience and opinion, Penna. seems to be telling it's residents that their house-on-fire/cardiac-arrest/etc. is NOT an emergency until the responders get to the fire/EMS station. In Penna, the blue lights are a courtesy light, which a fair amount of drivers DO yield to if they can. But it's bizarre that these "courtesy" responders (in their own vehicles) suddenly become "emergency" responders when they get behind the wheel of a 39' ladder truck. Or they can be trusted to stick a tube into your lungs, but can't handle emergency driving unless it's in an ambulance?

    In many states (TX, OH, WV, and more), volunteer responders are considered emergency responders, running red lights and sirens. I would agree with those who support multiple colors; if nothing else, red and white. White is necessary on ANY emergency vehicle to get the attention of drivers around the emergency vehicle. The color(s) serve to identify after the attention is gotten.

    I strongly agree that any dept. allowing emergency response in POVs have definite SOPs that govern their use. But states need to stop treating emergency lights on POVs like some sort of holy honor. They are an aid to doing our job more efficiently.

  10. #10
    KNOBMAN
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    I DO NOT THINK EMERGENCY LIGHTS ON A POV IS A GOOD IDEA. THEY SEEM TO GET ABUSED IN SOME TYPE OF WAY. I'VE SEEN SOME PEOPLE WITH UNDERCOVER LIGHT SO THEY LOOK LIKE A POLICE VEHICLE. RUNNING CODE 1 TO THE FIRE STATION FOR A LOW PRIORITY CALL IS UN-CALLED FOR. WE ARE REACHING THE YEAR 2000 AND I THINK THE VOLLEY WORLD SHOULD START TO REALIZE THAT( NO PUN INTENDED ) SUGGESTIONS: CUT HOME REPSPONDER FOR THE LOW PRIORITY TYPE CALLS IE. DUMPSTER, WIRE, KNOWN ALARM MAL. MEDICAL LOCALS. WORK OUT SOME TYPE OF DUTY CREW WHERE THERE ARE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF PERSONEL STAFFING THE STATION 24HRS. A DAY.....EI. IF YOU YOUR STATION HAS A MEDIC UNIT STAFF IT ( VOLLEYS) WITH 5 FIREFIGHTER. ALL 5 CAN GO IF YOU HAVE A FIRE HIT OR 2 CAN GO IF YOU HAVE A MEDIC CALL, AND YOU STILL HAVE 3 FF FOR A FIRE CALL. THE HOME RESPONDERS CAN STILL COME TO THE STATION TO GET THE REST OF THE EQUIPTMENT ON THE STREET. JUST LOOKING OUT FOR SAFTEY.

    MY OPINOIN.

    THANK YOU AND HVE A NICE DAY.

    ------------------


    UNION AND PROUD OF IT!

  11. #11
    Davidjb
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    What exactly does the year 2000 have to do with it? It is impossible for some towns (including mine) to have any amount of staffing at the station 24 hours a day. We all have other jobs and responsibilities that we drop at a moments notice when the pager goes off. We are a call Department and we do a good job of providing the town with what it needs, fire prtection/suppresion.
    If a person is responsible enough to be a usefull member of our department, we believe he/she is responsible enough to have lights on their pov and not abuse them.

    ------------------
    David Brooks, Firefighter, D/O
    Newmarket Fire Department
    Newmarket, New Hampshire
    http://www.NewmarketNH.com/Fire



  12. #12
    morriss
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    We are allowed to use red lights (2 or less) on our personal vehicles when responding to calls. This also holds for the rescue squad in the area. Our department is 100% volunteer and has restrictions on the distance members can live from the building. Lights are O.K. if the driver realizes that the light does not give him/her the right to break ANY traffic laws while responding to the call. The local law enforcement in our area handles our responses based on the "wreckless nature" of the driving.

  13. #13
    firefighter60
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    Sorry but one post here hit a nerve. Not all volunteer departments have the manpower to staff their stations 24/7. Mine is one that can be used as an example. We have 35 members, with most of us working daylight and out of town. On a daylight call during the week we are lucky to get 5 to 8 people for a call. Some of us are within 10 to 12 miles of town and our employeers will let us respond on a confirmed fire that goes to a second alarm. The use of our Blue Lights here in the state of Pennsylvania is a great help in letting us get through heavy traffic areas. Yes you do have to use common sense but our department does not let some one use a blue light until they have it registered and once every 18 months we try to run an EVOC class. I agree with some of the other people that have posted here, if we are responsible enough to drive the trucks and be considered emergency responders in them then we should be considered emergency responders in our own vehicles.

    Dave

  14. #14
    fyrescue
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Good points from everyone. Here in New York volunteer firefighters are granted the right to use blue lights when responding to calls on the authority of the Fire Chief. It is strictly a courtesy light and does not give the member any right to break any traffic law. Our members respond to the station when the alarm comes in.
    As a Chief Officer, I'm granted the use of red/white lights and sirens to respond to the scene. I'm granted the full priveleges of an emergency vehicle, I'm sure you know the drill. But does every call dictate the use of these devices? Certainly not. I use the following as a guide. Is someone's life at risk and can I make a difference? If yes, then I go "conditon RED", lights and siren. Is someone's CO detector going off and I have report of no illness? If yes, then I go "condition WHITE", no lights and siren.
    I've read many stories and studies which find there is little time saved going "balls to the wall", it is better to arrive alive so you can help. I have to agree with that thought process. I don't believe there is a benefit to equip the rank and file with sirens, and if I were the one to eliminate the blue lights and break tradition I would probably be lynched!
    But you need a good SOP regarding response guidelines and make everyone aware if they break the law of the road they are held responsible. When we get word someone has violated the law they get a short 30 day vacation, as well as the ticket. I'd rather have to discipline someone than go to their funeral. Fortunately we don't have many problems.

    Be Safe.

    Mike

  15. #15
    jpm
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    RATHER THEN BEATING THIS TOPIC OVER AND OVER AGAIN MONTH AFTER MONTH .HOW ABOUT A SOLUTION.ANY MEMBER WHO USES A BLUE LIGHT MUST COMPLETE A D.D.C. (DEFENSIVE DRIVING COURSE)
    E.V.O.C.(EMERGENCY VEHICLE OPERATION COURSE) AND NO BOOTS CAN HAVE ONE UNTIL THEY FINISH PROBATION. MAKE THEM LEARN TO GET TO THE FIREHOUSE SAFELY WITHOUT THEM FIRST.

    [This message has been edited by jpm (edited June 22, 1999).]

  16. #16
    Davidjb
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    LOL, A very good solution I think JPM.
    A defensive driving course is included with our state driver/operator class, but most of the department hasn't taken that. I think a seperate evoc course would be a good thing.

    ------------------
    David Brooks, Firefighter, D/O
    Newmarket Fire Department
    Newmarket, New Hampshire
    http://www.NewmarketNH.com/Fire



  17. #17
    DD
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Indiana uses blue lights for volunteers. It
    only asks for the right of way and does not make the POV an emergency vehicle. State law is that any firefighter who is convicted of a traffic violation while operating a blue light must be immediately dismissed from the department by the chief. Green lights are for EMTs.

  18. #18
    parkerfp1
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    I am from the Commonwealth of PA and as another person already said, blue lights are a courtesy light. The majority of person will move out of the way for a blue light. Red lights can be utilized on POV's as long as the are a chief of fire police capt. OUr department is very rural and the only time I ever used my blue light was going from the hall to the scene. Or crossing the main highway through town to get to the hall. Now as the fire police captain I run my red light the whole way to the hall or the scene.

    We submit a list of all members with lights to the local police and State Police. We also give this to our insurance carrier. However, it is stated in our SOG's that all member with blue ligths must obey traffic laws. We enforce this to an extent. If the subject is reported going through town (20mph) at excessive speed, he is suspended for 30 days. The city police also had a blue light class about two years ago.

    Our rule of thumb is bascially if it is already fully involved, there is no need to speed. The structure is as good as gone. The severity of the situation dictates each incident. But there is only one thing that every operater of an emergency light must follow and that is their head. Drive smart!

  19. #19
    jpm
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    last saturday i took my second 6 hour defensive driver course. in new york state if you take the course you save 10 percent on your insurance.(times that by 3 p.o.v .i save a couple of bucks) they will also deduct 3 points.( i don't have any of them) if the course did not work do you think they would do that? the city i work for pays for the class.(not as a f.f) about lunch time we got a break to go outside. as soon as we walked out the door a friend came up to me and asked if i heard about tommy.tommy was killed in a one car auto accident the night before ejected from his vehicle.he was found by a jogger at 7:30 am. after lunch one of the guys stood up and asked to have a minute of silence and to dedicate this class and the use of seat belts in memory of tommy all agreed.

    yesterday morning after a p.i.a.a. call i was flipping through a volunteer news letter. when i came opon a article about the number two cause of l.o.d.d. vehicle crashes. i think this is something we can fix !

    make your department pay for a (d.d.c) and a( e.v.o.c) whatever the cost.

    buckle up

    stay low stay safe

    [This message has been edited by jpm (edited June 22, 1999).]

  20. #20
    knightjr121
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    personal lights for ur vehicle are pretty cool to have. but getting to the firehouse 3 or 4 seconds quicker is not seriously going to have much of an impact. i don't think they're really neccessary but if u use them they should mainly be for people to give u the right away at four way stops and not to excessively speed. remember its always better to be part of the solution and not the problem

  21. #21
    Todd Trimble
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    In support of POV emergency lights, I'd add that it's a lot easier to find an address in the dark on a wooded county road when there's a truck parked out front with blue lights flashing.

    Add takedowns, alleys, PA, etc to your lightbar and suddenly you're more flexible and thereby more valuable on scene. (No, that doesn't mean you can make up for lack of experience, bad atitude, etc by putting more lights on your POV...)

    Just some thoughts...

    ------------------
    --
    Todd Trimble
    Fairland Volunteer Fire Department

  22. #22
    firefighter60
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    KnightJr121, agreed that if most of your membership is within a mile of the station it is only going to save you 3 to 4 seconds. In my case, I live 5 1/2 miles from the station. Now if all the trucks are gone I respond directly to the scene. I am a lieutenant with my department and as anyone will say the officers have to set the example. If I get behind someone who will not pull over I don't go into the panic mode and start tailgating or anything else. I stay behind that person and eventually that become aware that you are behind them. 80 to 90% of the population will yeild the right of way to a volunteer using some kind of warning light. Just remember that the person who does not yeild is the person who has never needed our services and believes that volunteers are "just playing at being firefighters", they have no idea that most of this country is protected by volunteers. I don't want the paid guys and gals getting upset by this, they are in areas that can afford to have paid departments and god bless them that they can make a living at what we all do. If more of the general population knew the basic stats of this they would be more apt to yeild the right of way, but they don't so we go on and do the best we can.

    Dave

  23. #23
    Tom Lafleur
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    In my dept.(Mass) we have an understanding with the local PD, if you get caught breaking the law useing your red lights than you get busted. The problem in our town is E.M.S., which is a seperate org. also runs red lights on there POVs and sometimes we get blamed for their bad driving.

  24. #24
    Wolf2980
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Hey Knobman,
    so what your saying is turn my vol. dept. into a paid dept. with a full time staff and that would solve the problem right? Emergency lights are a nesscesity for volleys. Unlike paides, we have to come from somewhere to the firehouse and do the exact same job. A deffensive driving coarse is a great idea for all those in the dept. AND BYE-THE-WAY, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS UNPRIORITIZING A CALL, YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON UNTIL YOU GET THERE!

  25. #25
    KNOBMAN
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Mr.Wolf,
    If you would re-read my
    post I suggested DUTY CREWS. To
    drop down to your level, have the
    VOLUNTEERS staff the station! DO
    YOU UNDERSTAND NOW? About the
    priority of calls: You can honestly
    justify running lights and sirens
    (in your car or even a pump) for a
    wire down, fuel on the roadway,
    calls for service? Many large
    metro~fire departments run alot of
    non~emergency responses, you know
    the department that you have every
    T~shirt for. Think about it when
    you are enroute to the station with
    your dash lights and stuff for a
    routine engine transfer or a
    service call.


    P.S. I do not think you want to
    make this into a CAREER vs. volley
    board so please get the facts
    before you speak!




    ------------------


    UNION AND PROUD OF IT!

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