1. #26
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    I have mixed opinions on emergency responses. When responding to the scene in a fire apparatus, I feel that there is no reason why you should have to go more than 5 or 10 mph over the speed limit. Fire trucks do not perform as well as regular cars... they simply do not have the braking or handling ability to drive any faster. Driving over 10mph past the speed limit is just plain reckless. In our state, only chiefs and asst. chiefs can run red lights and sirens. The rest of us run blue lights which are basically useless. The only time they are useful are to get past the police roadblocks when responding direct to a scene. Personal vehicles without audible sirens should not break the speed limit or have the right to run lights. They are not marked vehicles and they confuse other motorists. Where I live most of the people are on their cell phones anyways and don't even pay attention. Chief's vehicles and asst. chiefs personal vehicles should use extreme caution if they are running lights and sirens... they aren't marked units either.
    I am also in agreement that the only adventage to audible sirens is that they assist in getting through traffic signals or heavier / congested areas. Im sure we've all had our share of responding through rush hour and have seen that sirens really do make a difference.
    I used to be "crazier" with the lighting on my car. These days I rarely use them because I have seen how inneffective they really are. People rarely yield to them, and most of the time they just confuse others. The only time I really use them is when I am parked to avoid getting hit by other motorists. I rarely turn them on when responding anymore. The only place lights and sirens really belong is on the firetrucks and other marked vehicles.

  2. #27
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    This is a very touchy area. I contemplated posting a reply, but here is my opinion:

    In Virginia, we are required by law to run both lights and siren. However, during late night runs, my department does not run siren unless you come to a busy intersection, which there aren't many. Before anyone criticizes the way we respond, let me finish.

    We are a rural dept. Our saying is, "If you don't get there, you can't help anyone." I am not saying we take our sweet *** time getting there. I am a driver/operator and I push the envelope at times, depending on the call. But most importantly, I am always in control of my rig. When comming to an intersec or stop sign, I slow to the point that I can stop if necessary, but can proceed if clear. The funny thing in the state of Virginia is if you exceed the speed limit, you give up your right of way, regardless if you are in the right or not. I am unsure if the above applies to emergency vehicles, but the chance is there. 99 times out of 100, if you are in an accident, your in deep crap. That is why you must maintain control.

    The issue to me is what the definition of a true emergency is. Until you arive on scene, you cannot make the determination what type of response is warranted. Granted, sometimes you can tell by the info given upon dispatch, but most of the time people blow stuff out of proportion.

    Point is, unless you know for certain, run hard, but maintain control. We don't run ems, so I am speaking from the fire side of the spectrum. I would much rather run hard to a false alarm as to running slow to a fully involved house. It is all part of the risks we take everyday.

    Just my opinion and nothing more.
    Begin with the end in mind.

    Be safe out there!!

  3. #28
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    Hey Mitch RFD,

    Your FD must get lots of action. Where I run, 97% of the runs are NOT true emergencies.

    Sure you didn't get that stat backwards?



  4. #29
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    Hi everyone Im from a rural dept. with 60% med 1st resp our district stretches over 15 miles of shoreline highway the difference between 55 and 65 is about 60 sec to the end of our district and when you get out you want to puke or quit. if you dont arrive you can,t do jack, plus someone from farther away has to come scrape your ***** off the road and cover your call.How does that shorten your time. We had a local engine rear-ended by a logging truck and it emptied 14 neibouring depts, to cover the extrication plus the forest fire How,s that for performance
    J.B.WEIR
    Summerville Vol Fire Dept
    Pride In Service !

  5. #30
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    There are Pros and Cons to this whole discussion. I don't feel that Speed/Traffic Laws should be broken by any Police, Fire, Ambulance, or P.O.V. Responder. But we all see this happen. I am a Suburban New Jersey Firefighter in the Southern Part of the State outside Philadelphia. In my County alone there are over 80 Fire Companies and 90% of those are Volunteer. Some such as my-self use Blue Lights to respond to the station and some don't...It's a matter of personal Choice. I don't think that those who use these types of lights on their POV's should break laws or drive like nut cases because it really doesn't get you there any faster...I should know I respond 4 miles from home to the station and even with the light on the roof and the alternating head lights it doesn't make that much diffrence and On occassion I still miss the trucks. Driver responsibility is the key to that.

    Emergency Vehicles: They also need to be driven with responsibility and safety. Just because you're all lit up for election and the federal is wound up it doesn't mean that the person in front of you hears you {Usually because the radio is up too loud or they're day dreaming} The driver has to measure each call and determine how he/she should respond. My company responds lights and Siren to all calls unless directed to "Reduce Speed" by either the communications center or a chief officer already at scene. In our 94 years of existance we have yet to crack up a truck on the way to a call. Just luck ? Maybe so but we seem to a pretty responsible group of people. One thing I do see though that bothers me quite a bit is Police Cars abusing the roads and laws. In my car I monitor Various Police Channels {Usually get a better Jump on Fire Calls this Way} and I see them just throw on the Lights to clear an intersection and than shut 'em down that fast and from monitoring the scanner I know full well that they're not enroute to an emergency...What gives there ? What makes a Police Car any diffrent from my POV ? despite the fact the Police Crusier is an Emergency Vehicle. I see Ambulances coming full tilt to the hospital {Located in our First Due Area} screaming through town just to discover later that they were hauling a cut finger or M.V.A. Patient with neck/back pain.....I know because I used to belong to an Ambulance Squad in another community who's policy was and still is Lights and Siren on all calls.

    Hey none of us are perfect and never will be. I'm not bashing anybody here or any profession I think we all do one hell of a job out there --- Police, Fire {Career/Volunteer} and EMS {Career/Volunteer}
    But who really is allowed to break traffic laws ???? The last I herd only Mail Trucks because they are on Federal Business which superseeds local and state ordinances
    ***The Opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect those of the Department to which I am a Member ! ***

    Stratford Fire Co. # 1.."Any Job ~ Any Place ~ Any Time"

    Check us Out www.stratfordfire.com

  6. #31

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    If you kill or injure some one and its found to be your fault, You can be held criminally liable. NFPA 1710 states a minimum response time of 5 minutes is what your shooting for. Seems a little like a catch 22 to me. True medical emergencys, or some thing where time IS of the essence maybe i hang it out a little more. Usually i use defensive tactics and its not a problem. Oh yea remember to use your seat belts. 96% of F/F MVA fatalitys the seat belts weren't utilized.

  7. #32
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    Now this I can relate to. I work as a EMS Dispatcher and to me this is where this problem can be fixed. Down here we EMD the call and determine the priority. Some calls we run lights and sirens to, some we don't. And from experience there are several callers that request us to respond non-emergency, but that doesn't mean we will or won't. It all depends on the call taker. My fire dept does allow lights and sirens on personal vehicles but safe driving is strictly enforced.
    NREMT-P\ Reserve Volunteer Firefighter\Reserve Police Officer
    IACOJ Attack

    Experts built the Titanic, amateurs built the Ark.

  8. #33
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    What Ryan said!

    With the caliber dispatch standards we have these days, the determination of NEED for lights/siren response should be made before we even get called. If your dispatch/911 center doesn't train by E.M.D. or the numerous other Public Safety Dispatch standards availablem then they should. Of course there will always be situations where we cannot accurately determine the exact nature of an emergency before sending units. But these are the exception.

    Sorry Mitch, but if responding lights/siren, "Code" whatever means the chances of me being in an accident increase 50%, than the 3% true emergency call will have to wait till I safely arrive.

    And, TRUE, the lights/siren response only really help in getting through traffic and traffic signals.

    Be safe.

    PRAY FOR OUR FALLEN.
    09-11-01:Never Forget

  9. #34
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    Hello Everyone

    I fall somewhere in the middle of this discussion. I am a career fire fighter and a volunteer. (We are all professional)I have lights and siren on my personal vehicle and must pass a yearly vehicle inspection to keep them. We are given a yearly emergency vehicle driver's training and have the opportunity to train with the local sheriff's department at a racetrack to learn defensive driving. With all this, we still have people driving through town at 60 mph to a grass fire. Where is the emergency? Yet, I think the minute you save may be the brain cells that keep someone alive that is in an arrest. It is all in risk management, what do you gain for what amount of risk. We are not going to take all the danger from this job but we can reduce it. Be smart and weigh the benefits of that extra minute you will save and base your decision on that. Just my $.02
    Roy Colbrunn (Tank)
    IAFF Local F-88 Sec/Treas

  10. #35
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    In our Dept. we try to slow the response down as soon as possible.This is done by getting the proper info. from dispatch or the first arriving officer.If it`s not an emergency, units are told to "respond with traffic".This is the case 80% of the time.We don`t do this because our drivers`are`nt safe . It`s John Q public I worry about they don`t seem to have a clue.It never seems to amaze me what drivers do when they hear a siren,(stop dead,go left,cut in front of you,speed up,or drive on like your not there).I wish I could get them on video,it could be very entertaining.
    Lead,Follow or Get out of the way.

  11. #36
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    First, a little about our situation where I volunteer. Our EMS system covers around 600 road miles of rural Alaska. Our local VFD covers around 120 road miles.

    Our EMS system forbids the use of lighting &/or sirens on POVs. Our VFD only allows officers to use lighting &/or sirens on POVs. Being one of those officers, I can tell you that 90% of the time, they are never used.

    Our EMS system responds with ambulances Code 2 99% of the time. This means lights no siren. We have no stop lights and most times traffic is almost non-existant. The exceptions to this are in high traffic areas (downtown), intersections (of which we have 4 total) and construction zones. In those situations we go Code 3 but in those instances rarely, if ever, exceed the posted speed limit. IF we do exceed the posted speed limit, it is NEVER by more than 10 MPH. This is not only EMS SOP but state law. We also at least yeild at all stop signs, and on occasion when necessary for safety come to a complete stop. 100% of the time, our dispatcher determines the code level of the response. Our VFD responds very similarly except that we NEVER operate fire apparatus at more than 60 MPH. Partly because our road system will not allow it and partly because the apparatus would never do much faster unless you were going down steep grades.

    As far as response times go, when you're traveling 50 or 60 miles to an MVA, the time you actually save by going more than 10 MPH over the speed limit is so minimal that it's obsurd to risk it. Lights and sirens are for one thing and one thing only, to alert the motoring public of vehicles that require expedited travel. And while it's nice to think that with red lights and siren blareing people will yeild the right of way to expedite our travel, this is rarely the case. I've personally seen a 3,000 gallon MACK chassis tender running Code 3 doing 25 MPH for a mile and a half behind an elderly woman in a station wagon. Is this right? Should it happen? No, but the reality is it happens more often than not.

    Before I would advocate the use/non-use of lights and siren or excessive speed, I would advocate the use of trained, level headed, common sense and in control operation both in POV and apparatus. Operate your apparatus in control, using common sense and for God's sake, always wear safety belts. Do that, and risk management will love you like you were their long lost son or daughter. Don't do that, and your adding elements of risk that don't need to be added on top of an already risky profession.

    My $0.02

    Greg Smith<br />Assistant Chief<br />Gakona Vol. Fire Dept.<br />Gakona, Alaska

  12. #37
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    Well. They try to tell everybody at driver sadtey courses and such, that you are never more than 7 minutes away from a hospital. How untrue. We are about 22 miles away from a hospital. We are a rural community, which it can take 10 minutes to get to a call nd then to the hospital we are running 1 hour and 5 minutes maybe by the time we reach the hospital. So its upto your setting whether or not how "fast" you should allow drivers to go.

  13. #38
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    I dont think "We" are stressing fast response too much, I think managment trys to. However, when I am driving at work I go no faster then weather and traffic conditions allow. Theres absolutely nothing they can say about it. However they can say lots if i hit another vehicle or a pedestrian. Dont let them push you around.

  14. #39
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    It seems that most of the replies to this post are equating speed to code 3 response. I feel that the greatest benefit to lights and sirens occurs in the heavy traffic of the cities. Those of you in more rural or suburban areas may not see the benefit of code 3 on response times as those of us in more congested areas may. Going faster is not the answer to a quick response, properly and safely negotiating traffic probably has a greater impact on response times.

  15. #40
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    Undue and exceesive speed has always been, and unfortunately, always will be a problem. There is always that adrenaline rush when the alarm sounds or the pagers go off. I try to drive slower because of all the added hazards while responding to a call. People on the side of the street trying to see where you're responding to, drivers in cars not sure what to do as you get closer to them, other emergency vehicles responding to the same incident. It can all be very daunting.<br />Some companies may respond all out in the name of aggressiveness. Aggressiveness, however, should never be equated with recklessness. As operators or chauffeurs, we have a responsiblity to the community we serve, to our fellow responders, to their families and to our families to make sure that everyone who goes on a run gets to and from an incident in one piece.<br />As with all of the other posts on this topic, this is just one person's opinion.

    God bless and stay safe.

  16. #41
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    Question

    I have read a lot of good discussion on this thread. Does anyone have a specific response policy, such as St. Louis MO's "quiet dispatch" that they would want to share?

    I am looking to propose a policy at my station and am looking for input/ideas/etc.

    Thanks

    (email: erickenbach@wyopd.org

  17. #42
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    Our department is a 100 member fire/ems organization. We depend heavily on our Duty Oficer (with department vehicle) or officers in POV with radio to get to the scene and make an assessment of the call. This ususally reduces the need to run emergency traffic. Our SOP's reflect the state law of not going over the posted speed limit on any call and proceding with caution through all intersections. All riders are belted in before the apparatus leaves the station and no lights are allowed on POV's. We have had a few fender benders with department vehicles but no injuries have been incurred with these rules. Also the liability of running lights on a POV is a feeding ground for lawyers.

  18. #43
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    It is up to the leadership of the department to review the response procedures and come up with a plan that makes sense. It is also up to the firefighter's to remember the reason we are responding...TO HELP WITH SOMEONE ELSE'S EMERGENCY. We are no good to anyone if we don't get there. And if your leadership choses to endorse the "bat outta hell" response to everything, then it is up to us to make sure we do it safely.

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