1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question Who gets to "play" with the siren?

    Without getting into a debate about Priority 1,2,3 or Red/White responses...I was wondering who in the front seat has control of the siren/airhorn. In the combo. ambulance service I used to Volly with, the Driver had complete and total control over the warning devices. Their reasoning...he is the one with his eyes on the road totally commited to driving, so he may see something that the Paramedic may not. The driver's usually knew the area much better than the Paragods, so they knew the low spots and blind curves.

    The FD I'm with now, the officer has control. However, when driving the EMS unit, I "instinctivly" change the tone and use the airhorn. I have been told that that is not my responsibility...I have to concentrate on getting there safely, so that requires my complete attention.

    I know that both have their pro's and con's. I have had no problems,AND have run into problems when the other guy up front turns around to talk to the crew in the back or has his face buried in a map pack.

    So, what do you do?

    Stay Safe and Stay Low


  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Our dept. "rules" state that the driver does just that...drives. The officer takes care of the siren and horn. That way total concentration is on driving. Unfortunately, I just can't seem to get this through my head if I am driving!

    Learn all the jobs, at some point you'll have to do them

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We don't have any SOP (that I know of) but when I'm driving I want the guy in the shotgun seat handling the siren and radio. I'll handle the air horn myself because I don't want him (or her) scaring the crap out of me if I don't happen to see them reach for it. In most of our trucks the siren is not situated for easy use by the driver anyway, too much of a stretch for comfort.

  4. #4
    Eng 48
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    We've got a set up where the driver has a foot switch to activate the "Q", and the air horn works from the horn button o the wheel. The electonic siren is mounted in the middle where either officer ar dirver canactivate it. And the officer has a dash mounted button for the Q and the air horn. This way if either one of them see an obstical ahead they can activate the proper warning device.

    Be safe everyone!

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Driver's choice -- normally the shotgun runs the sirens, but the Driver can "call it" and let the shotgun know they prefer running the siren themselves.

  6. #6
    Lieutenant Gonzo
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We have the siren button for our FedQ's
    on the floor of the cab on both sides of our rigs, with the air horn control mounted on the ceiling. Two sets of eyes are better to view the road, most of the time whoever is riding shotgun will operate the siren and horns, freeing the driver to steer his way around the nitwits that insist on cutting you off, pulling over to the left instead of the right when the rig approaches and speeding up to stay ahead of the rig. It's just like a thrill ride at Disney World (only scarier)!

    Did you ever notice that when you are going down the road people without lights and siren people tend to pull over for you, but when you go Code 3 they turn into the aforementioned nitwits? Just an observation....

    Take care and be safe...Lt. Gonzo

  7. #7
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Another vote for the officer.

    Alan Romania, CEP
    IAFF Local 3449

    My Opinions do not reflect the opnions of the IAFF or Local 3449.

  8. #8
    Firehouse.com Guest


    If I am the D/O (driver/operator), I usually (with the exception of officers) tell the shotgun it is my siren. We have a few that think the "Q" button is to stand on for just about every call. Myself I use the amount of noise I think necessary for the situation. Winding that thing up behind someone who is stuck in traffic behind others is not going to make them move any faster.

    ED C.
    "Doin' it for lives and property !"
    <A HREF="http://www.freeyellow.com/members8/ptfd21/index.htm"" TARGET=_blank>Pittsfield Twp. Fire Dept.</A>

  9. #9
    Bob Snyder
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Ideally, it should be the officer that works the radio and sirens, but should defer to the driver if he/she chooses to intervene. I've seen a few alternators killed by excessive officer use of a Q, for example, which could have been avoided had the officer gotten off the button when told to.

    Having said that, I usually take control of the warning devices (but not the radio) when I'm driving...there just aren't that many people who make enough noise to keep me happy...

  10. #10
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Lieutenant Gonzo is right on that observation..When we take our Truck out for a ride we have the back strobes on and the bottom headlights and strobes on but we dont have them on all the time because people pull over and we arent going anywhere! It is funny but yet annoying.. But when we are responding to a call people dont know where to pull they go to the left right right left its confusing especially during a traffic jam. and Idiots are trying to get ahead and you are flying on the opposite side of the road and some moron with his radio blasting doesnt hear the sirens and horns and decides to pull out in front of you then you are in trouble but luckily nothing like that has happened yet.

    "You Go....We Go"
    "Emt's Don't Die They Stabalize"

  11. #11
    Drive P17B
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    On My Rig the Capt. in the shotgun seat runs the sirens and horns. I prefer to keep 100% of my attention on the road.


  12. #12
    Firehouse.com Guest


    As a general rule or guideline, the driver is responsible for the apparatus and the safety of the crew while enroute or returning to and from the station. I can only suggest that the driver have complete control unless specifically arrainged with the officer or firefighter in the front seat. This allows the driver to apply the neccessary audio and visual warning devices at the correct times. As a general rule for me I drive with my window down so that if I hear a different audio device then what I am emmiting, I know to be extremely cautious. If I am not controlling the audio device how am I to know whats being emmitted. Helping the driver watch for traffic and other apparatus as well as handling the radio is what the officer or the firefighter in the front seat should be concerned with.

    To gain knowledge one must study, to gain wisdom one must observe.

  13. #13
    Firehouse.com Guest


    That's why you have two hands. Both should be on the wheel. You have several firefighters to protect on your way there and you should be concentrating totally on driving. Let the officer(or passenger) do the siren changing, the radio traffic, and everything else that needs to be done on the way. If it were me the sirens in the engines, ladders and other apparatus would not be able to be reached by the engineer. In our ambulances the driver only has to press the horn to change the siren which helps them keep their eyes on the road.


  14. #14
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Well, i dont know about most people, but I generally handle the noise makers if I am driving. I say this because I get annoyed by other overzealous passengers standing on the pedals and drowning out the radio traffic as well as making an ungodly amount of unnecessary noise. I have never had a problem trying to drive and reaching over to flip the siren on, or driving and pressing the siren pedal. I keep my eyes on the road always. I am also a believer that certain responses dont warrant as much siren commotion as others. If I am riding officer, whoever gets to it first handles it, no big deal.

    The opinions and views expressed herin are solely mine and not on the behalf of any department or organization I belong to.

  15. #15
    Truckie from Missouri
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I support the opinion that both the driver and passenger have eyes, and they may see something that the other does not. When I am driving, I may not see something the captain sees, and therefore he hits the horn. No big deal. Same goes if I see something that he does not, I hit the horn, no big deal.

    I have also noticed that, for me anyway, the speed of the vehicle I am driving is directly disproportionate to the amount of noise that is being emmitted. I only use the horns when there is a problem, and when approaching a problem, I feel that I do NOT need to be travelling as fast.

    Just my thoughts.

    Proud Member of IAFF Local 3133!

    Stay safe.


    All postings I have &/or will post are strictly my opinions. I am representing only myself here, not the IAFF, Local 3133, or my employer. No animals were/will be harmed from the production of this disclaimer. Thank you.

  16. #16
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Our department has controls where either the officer or the driver can control the "Q" or the air horn...the electronic siren typically is activated by the officer. Be safe!

    Scott Lambert
    Seminole Trail Volunteer Fire Department

  17. #17
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Here the shot-gun runs the siren, lights,radios> all driver does is drive, and has contrel of air horn, has floor petal on driver side. I think the driver should just have to worry about driving, I know If I'm in the truck that's all the driver has to do is drive.I play the siren..

  18. #18
    Joseph Mowery
    Firehouse.com Guest


    In our Department the Officer has
    control of the siren and the radio. He has
    a foot switch for the Mechanical, Electrical,
    and Air Horn. However, the driver still has
    the mechanical siren activated by horn button
    on the wheel and the air horn by foot switch.
    The electrical siren controls are mounted on
    an overhead mount that will swing to either
    side for the driver or officer to control and
    I can flip a switch to switch control for the
    horn button from Q2B to Electrical.
    Yes, the riding officer can be a pain
    playing with the Q2B. I have even asked the
    Bat Chief if he has a stuck Q-pedal before.
    Yes, I have had to use the the siren
    when the Right seat had his nose buried in
    the map book or busy getting his harness

  19. #19
    Firehouse.com Guest


    The officer in my opinion has three jobs between the barn and the fire

    1) Maintain calm, effective communications with county control and whomever is on the street calling the shots
    2) Making sure that he has the proper assignment and that he has informed our crew of our job long before we arrive
    3) Being completely dressed in PPE including having his SCBA at donned to the point where all he needs to do is place his mask on AND having a portable radio

    I, am the one that is gonna go to jail if the wagon doesn't make it safely to the scene and therefor I would prefer to run the Q and the trumpets. Between communications, PPE, and our crew the officer has enough to do.

  20. #20
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Well, I'll be honest...when I posted this topic, I honestly, truly expected it to be decididly one-sided~~hopefully in my favor (the driver) but I figured the Officer would win hands down.

    If you havent been keeping track as you read, here is the results to date:

    7 Driver
    9 Officer
    2 Un-decided (see remarks like Truckie
    from Mo.)

    That kinda shocked me to have it so close. Thank you for your inputs, now I have some good info to "defend" myself!!

    thanks again

    Stay Safe And Stay Low


  21. #21
    Firehouse.com Guest


    In my department ot is our training practice for our engineers to safetly convey the apparatus to and from calls. and by doing this the he is responsible for the safety of the men and the unit. The engineer is responsible for the immeadiate area around the unit ONLY. The shotgun person which is an officer most of the time is responsible for the lights, radio, siren, fed-Q, air-horn, and keeping the engineer warned of any vehicles that may be intersection ahead of the unit. It is my department's opinion the the engineer cannot have total control of his apparatus unless he/she has both hands on the wheel especially on Code 3 response. I know that this sounds like one of those grouchy old chiefs but we havent has an accidient in our department in the six years that this SOP has been enacted.

    Be Safe

  22. #22
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I must agree with the majority... although I feel the driver has the right and duty to sound the air horn as needed since he is responsible for being behind the wheel... Most of the time the driver is occupied with driving...so the Officer should be involved to help out as "co-pilot". Like others have stated elsewhere 4 eyes are better for safety.

  23. #23
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Well I will say that when I am driving the engine all of the siren and stuff is on my side so I dont have a the option. I do know that my Capty will blow the horn though. That is if I dont get to it first. In the ambu. all of the sirens are on the steering wheel so it is also the driver. But the passenger gets all of the radio traffic and map book reading.

    Take Care,

  24. #24
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Although there is no written SOG, the OIC usually controls the siren and airhorn unless the FAE specifically says that they will control it.

  25. #25
    Firehouse.com Guest


    The driver has to be able to control the so the controls should be easiest accessed by the driver, however available to the officer to make life easier on the driver.....But in the case of a situation where the driver sees something the officer doesnt-he has to be able to operate the siren.

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