1. #1
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    Default I'm In Charge...Open This Road!

    Received this email from a New York State volunteer fire department member. It doesn't matter what state you are from, the "Open This road...Now!" problem is a reality we all face.

    Question-
    "Dear Ron,
    I have been setting up highway safety zones for some time now but have gotten much stricter since hearing your presentation in Baltimore at Firehouse Expo.

    I now have a problem with the highway cops in my area that have ordered me to open roads I don't want to. My Board of Commissioners and most Chief's Associations around are now backing me but I could use some help if you have places I can contact to find rulings on this matter. I looked up quite a few but it seems to be a gray area as to who has the control. I'm not letting my men get hurt but the cops have implied that I could be arrested. Any help you can give me would be good."

    Reply:
    He who has the gun is in charge!

    The federal law which covers why we MUST block the crash scene is the newly proposed revision #2, Chapter 6I of the Dept of Transportation Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices(MUTCD). The specific section of the document is free for downloading at http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/millennium/pr2/6ir2.pdf

    The October edition of my University of Extrication column launches a 5-part series on the critical aspects of "Safe Parking" at highway incidents. Stay tuned!
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator
    www.universityofextrication.com

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    Thank you Ron. This is definitely something that affects each and every first responder. It is an important and controversial issue that needs to be addressed. The safety of every person on an accident scene is paramount.

    To quote Al Haig...."I'm in charge here."
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

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    It doesn't matter what state you are from, the "Open This road...Now!" problem is a reality we all face

    Well...not all the states. Mine has a very strong fire chief's authority law which includes:

    Connecticut General Statutes Sec.7-313e. Authority of fire officer during emergency...: (a) Control and direct emergency activities at such scene;...(c) blockade any public highway, street, or private right-of-way temporarily while at such scene;

    And yes, (a) above does mean in my state, Fire owns any incident we respond to. If a dispute arises between Fire, Police, EMS, DPW, or any other agency...in the end it's the Fire Chief who has the legal (statute & case law) authority to have the final say.

    In practicality, you cooperate -- I was member-in-charge at a minor MVA yesterday morning and wanted to clear our truck & people from the scene due to construction zone congestion...and the State Police asked for us to stay and help them with traffic. No problem...we cooperate with them, they'll cooperate with us in the future.

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    As Dal said, the Fire Officer in charge is in charge of any scene we go to.

    However, there have been many attemps in the last few years by the DOT, State Police, and Department of Military to get that changed. One that was going strong this year, but I think it died, would have placed DOT in charge of any incident on a highway. Their primary concern was to keep traffic moving because they claim they lost an absurd amount of money each minute the highway was closed...even though there are no tolls in CT. I believe their claim was that the vehicles sitting on the highway were causing more damage to the highway then if they were moving. Adversely, you can say that we are saving money on the part that is closed down!
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    We too have control of the scene until we release it. Luckily we have a fantastic working relationship with our State Patrol and local PD.
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
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    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    Most of the time we have no problems. Every once in awhile the PD will try to get the road opened sooner than we want it, but if we tell them No, then they won't push the issue. The State Patrol used to be the biggest problem with us, but it has been a long time since we've had any problems........

    It's all about common courtesy. We know they have a job to do and they know we do. We get ours done as quick as possible so they can do the same.

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    There's always that chance though. Two cases come to mind. Beavercreek, Ohio where a State Trooper arrested a Fire Officer for blocking the road (protecting his people). As I recall, he actually cuffed the guy, and put him in his cruiser. The last I heard, the judge told them both that they had to learn to play better together. Funny thing is that the State Patrol teaches (or at least used to)their troopers that they are in charge of the accident scene. This is in spite of what the law says regarding the Fire Chief's authority on incident involving fire, injuries, and hazmat incidents.

    Another was near Springfield, Ohio where a fire officer was actually made to move a vehicle at gunpoint by a Sheriff's Deputy. The deputy was ultimately fired, and found to be holding bunches of subpoenas that he was supposed to have delivered. He was a real piece of work.

    Bottom line is to have these things worked out prior to being confronted with a power struggle on the scene.

    As for our local cops, there aren't any better around.
    Steve Gallagher
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    "I don't apologize for anything. When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

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    RON,
    I am so glad this subject came up here. When we are on MVA's on our highways the Law Enforcement officials and DOT personnel have gotten use to our habits of closing necessary lanes (plus one) at all incidents. They know, we know they want the road opened as soon as possible BUT not until it is safe for our folks. A Liason is set up early for them to contact at an incident. (State troopers are most cooperative, and the "local" police being the most urgent in wanting to open up the "lane" we closed. Communicate beforehand to let them know your POLICY (whether written or otherwise). Make sure you have an "evolution" for a roadway incident and be just as aggressive picking up as you were deploying your "stuff". The less time we are on the road the better and safer.

    Roadway safety cannot be over emphasized while operating at an incident. I just completed a draft policy for our department which up until this point had ZERO policies regarding roadway incident traffic safety and management. Our department covers 40 miles of a busy Interstate Highway from the lowlands to a mountain pass. Our deparment is a combination department (100+ Paid + 100+ volunteer)with 15 stations. We see hundreds of MVA's particularly in my first due (nearly ten times the amount of any of our other stations because we are in the mountainous area and the speed limit is higher not to mention two other state routes running through it.

    I have been running up this highway for over 20 years, in 1985 was literally "brushed" by a motorist doing 60+ while standing on the highway. Plus, I see fatalities all year long but not as often as in winter. Obviously not many stations have that much roadway to cover. The point is that we all deserve as much protection as the next one does. Even if you don't have a "written" policy in place, make sure you train your folks on roadway safety. Get advice from the sages (wise ones) and get something in writing.

    With winter nearing (for all of us except maybe in the south)I find this topic more than urgent and necessary. Since last year this time I am quite certain several thousand new volunteer and career folks have come into the fold. They deserve to know what we know about this and other topic areas. This is a difficult training evolution (because you can almost NEVER shut down an interstate or state route for "practice". Repetitiousness however, is mandatory when conveying the raodway safety inforamtion. Remember, we are all teachers, teaching teachers...pass it on!

    I look forward to seeing the forthcoming "safe parking" series.

    Be safe all.

    Fraternally, JW
    "Making Sense with Common Sense"
    Motor Vehicle Rescue Consultants
    ( MVRC@comcast.net) Jordan Sr.

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    For Adze (and other Nutmeggers) :

    If you had an accident and shut down I-95 in Fairfield County...would anyone notice the difference from when the highway is technically open?

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    Hey Dal.....whats a Nutmegger?
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
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    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    Dal, I don't think anyone would.

    Weruj1: CT has 2 nicknames. The Constitution State and the Nutmeg State. A Nutmegger would be someone from CT. The name comes from travelling salesmen who used to sell wood shavings and pass them off as nutmeg.

    Found the following at http://www.netstate.com/states/intro/ct_intro.htm

    The Constitution State: (Official) John Fiske, the historian, claimed that The Fundamental Orders of 1638-39 comprised the first written constitution in history. Though this claim has been disputed by some, it remains a landmark document. It is thought that many of the features of the Federal Constitution were drawn from this document. The General Assembly designated Connecticut "The Constitution State" in 1959.

    The Nutmeg State: Nutmeg, the powder used for seasoning foods, is ground from the seed of the fruit of the Nutmeg Tree, Myristica fragans. A couple of stories exist as to the origin of this nickname. One story has it that this nickname came about as a comment on the ingenuity and shrewdness of the citizens of the state. In a story, perhaps originated by Sam Slick, it is claimed that the people of Connecticut were so ingenious and shrewd that they were able to make and sell "wooden" nutmegs to unsuspecting buyers. A variation on this story maintains that purchasers did not know that the seed must be ground to obtain the spice and may have accused yankee peddlars, unfairly, of selling worthless "wooden" nutmegs. It may be that these wooden nutmegs were whittled by idle sailors on ships coming from the spice island and sold as souvenirs.

    The Blue Law State: This nickname was a result of the notoriety propagated by the first government of New Haven Plantation's "Blue Laws." Blue Laws are laws that regulate public morality. Some contend that these Blue Laws were so-named because they were written on blue paper or bound in blue books. Others contend that there is no real evidence that any of these so-called Blue Laws were ever codified. Being that as it may, the stories surrounding the Blue Laws of Connecticut earned the state this nickname.

    The Brownstone State: Connecticut was once famous for its Brownstone Quarries at Portland. Brownstone was used to build mansions and public buildings. In the 1800s, the quarry employed 1,500 men from Sweden, Ireland and Italy and operated a fleet of 25 ships to transport the stone down the Connecticut River to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and London. In May, 2000, 51 acres that comprise the town-owned Portland Brownstone Quarries were named a National Historic Landmark by the Department of the Interior.

    The Freestone State: This nickname was applied because of the formerly valuable Freestone Quarries in the state of Connecticut.

    The Provisions State: This nickname originated during the Revolutionary War when Connecticut provided most of the food and canons to the forces.

    The Land of Steady Habits: This nickname came about because of the strict morals of the people of the state. A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles, edited by Mitford M. Mathews (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951) defines "Land of Steady Habits" as "1. Connecticut, applied in allusion to the strict morals of its inhabitants," (page 954).

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

    Sorry for getting off subject. Ok, so maybe there are more than 2 nicknames but Constitution State and Nutmeg State are the main ones.
    Last edited by Adze39; 10-02-2003 at 02:16 PM.
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    Thanks Adze ..............most informative........things you learn everday !
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    We normally have excellent cooperation from our county deputies and highway patrol. Like everyone else we try to reopen lanes/roads as soon as it is safe to do so.

    The speed limit is 75 MPH on the interstate and generally 65 MPH on secondary roads. Our biggest problem is with the interstate. We normally work with at least one FD apparatus positioned on the approach side of the incident to move traffic to the open lane. It may take twenty minutes or more for law enforcement to arrive and they position additional vehicles to slow traffic and move them to the proper lane. We still have numerous people drive through the incident at 75 MPH.

    A couple of nights ago we had a vehicle fire on the interstate. The vehicle was on the right shoulder and we closed the driving lane. In addition to the engine we had a rescue truck, a deputy and a highway patrol unit for traffic control. You could see the lights on the emergency vehicles for approximately one mile away.

    I was talking with the trooper when one young lad did not slow down. We both yelled at him as he went by to no avail. The trooper left in pursuit. He came back about twenty minutes later.

    The driver's excuse was that all the lights from the emergency vehicles made it difficult to see the trooper and I motioning him to slow down. He claimed he couldn't see our flashlights until he was even with us. The trooper asked if he routinely sped by parked emergency vehicles with warning lights on without slowing down.
    He said yes.

    State law requires a full stop in this situation unless otherwise directed to proceed. Hopefully we have one wiser driver.

    Stay Safe
    IACOJ

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    I was talking with the trooper when one young lad did not slow down. We both yelled at him as he went by to no avail. The trooper left in pursuit. He came back about twenty minutes later.

    Had someone blow by a scene one night just as we were taking up from a minor house fire. Chief was walking back to his work SUV to leave, said a couple choice words, and left in pursuit. Chief's a State Trooper. At the station later, I think the quote was, "I don't think they'll be driving like *that* again."

    ===========

    You know, I've seen some of departments that run traffic-control pickups complete with the big "arrows" like DOT has. Where in that PA/DE/NJ/NY/CT band where many of volunteer areas fire also handles traffic control. Wonder if anyone's mounted one of the those radar-activated "Your Speed Is" signs to one yet? Usually when I see one on the road, most people try to slow down to the speed limit.

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    Yesterday morning we had a truck fire on the local interstate. Road was closed most of the day for the clean up and removal. We were out of the area fairly quickly but the recovery team had to off load/ dismantle the semi full of plastic bags. Long story short we were latter called to a fatal mva. Possibly related to the traffic tie up. I guess my point is, Shut the road for as long as it takes. But, open the road as soon as possible.

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