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  1. #1
    Early Adopter cozmosis's Avatar
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    Question Lights on while returning?

    I just answered the poll on the Firehouse.Com front page about whether fire apparatus returning from a call should have their warning lights on. I was part of an strong majority (93.8%) in voting NO. However, 5.0% (or about 175 of the 3,508 voters) voted YES and 1.3% (about 45 voters) were undecided.

    I understand that apparatus once returned to quarters with their lights on as a safety measure -- after all, they had jakes riding on the tailboard. However, everyone should be in the cab now and when not responding to an emergency, fire apparatus should be driven like any other vehicle. Right?

    If your department is returning to quarters with lights on, why?


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    We don't - it isn't necessary. And besides from the amount of driving I have done with our Engine recently, I have found I actually get more respect from drivers WITHOUT LIGHTS than I do with them ON!

    Go figure that one out.
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  3. #3
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Doing so now-a-days create more of a hazzard than anything else. It confuses other drivers and there is no reason to requesting the right of way to go back to the firehouse. See, unfortunately, the average motorist is not psychic and doesn't know hte difference between "Get out of the way now" and "We are hung up on a pointless tradition". TURN THEM OFF.

    In most states, this practice is probably a violation of the law anyway. That alone should settle any dispute.
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  4. #4
    Forum Member SafetyPro's Avatar
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    California law only allows the use of emergency lights and sirens by fire/EMS when responding to a call, when transporting a patient with a life threatening condition or when a traffic hazard exists. It is not allowed when returning from a call.

    We do, however, use our lights when we're backing into the station after a call, the justification being that we're creating a traffic hazard when doing so.
    Chris Gaylord
    Emergency Planner / Fire Captain, UC Santa Cruz FD

  5. #5
    Forum Member cellblock's Avatar
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    It's already tough enough getting them to pull over when we are running code to a working fire or a CPR call. If we are running lights while cruising through traffic on the way back to the station then they will, first, get confused (hey, I pulled over for them and they are just sitting at the light waiting for it to turn green. WTF) then they get angry (Damn, if I had known they weren't in a hurry I wouldn't have pulled over. I got places to go to.) Then they get spitefull (there's that firetruck again and now they are coming down the raod with their lights on again. Well I'm not gonna pull over for them again just so they can get to the grocey store a little faster to shop for dinner. They can wait behind me at the light this time.)
    The only time we need the public to see our lights on is when we have to get on scene and when we arrive there to let them know to slow down.

  6. #6
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    Originally posted by SafetyPro
    California law only allows the use of emergency lights and sirens by fire/EMS when responding to a call, when transporting a patient with a life threatening condition or when a traffic hazard exists. It is not allowed when returning from a call.

    We do, however, use our lights when we're backing into the station after a call, the justification being that we're creating a traffic hazard when doing so.
    Ditto for us here in Ohio. You wanna see people really disregard flashing red lights, it's when we are trying to get back into quarters. We almost had two firemen hit last night.

    On the other hand, it would be nice to turn them on and get through the red traffic lights like the cops do
    Last edited by WTFD10; 07-29-2004 at 08:05 PM.
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  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber Medic162's Avatar
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    We too only use lights when responding and backing into the station after the call. Doesn't really matter though, here in S.C. no one ever gives an inch either way. Sometimes I think they should just be removed from the vehicles to save some money. BTW, had a unconscious/unresponsive call yesterday with a driver coming towards me as I needed to make a left turn. She had the requisite cellphone stuffed into her ear. Anyways... I put the bumper of my Pierce Heavy Rescue about 6 inches from her window and let loose with the airhorn - I think the person she was talking to told her to pull over
    Brian Rowe
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    Colleton County Fire/Rescue

  8. #8
    Forum Member FiftyOnePride's Avatar
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    Agreeing with what everyone said, I have to agree, we only use lights while responding to an incident, as well as every incident referred to here at this point I believe.
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  9. #9
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    we also do not have them on.............however, we used to have an SOG that said the rear lights that were on the upper part of the truck (like on either side if the hosebed)had to be on.....no one really did this and I suspect it was to "outline" the rear of the truck to avoid rear end collisions, it has since been completely omitted. We do keep one amber and one red strobe on underneath our mid mounted bucket truck for that reason currently.
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  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber Engine58's Avatar
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    We just keep our rear warning lights on when returning other than that we shut everything down unless backing into our station. No reason to confuse other drivers.
    Andrew
    Firefighter/EMT
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  11. #11
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Talking Do What??........

    You guys don't run back to the station the same way you responded out to the call?? Next thing you'll be telling me that you wear protective gear on calls and breath air outta one of those mask things..... We have the usual lights on the apparatus, and we normally have the Arrowsticks in a non-directional flash mode when the apparatus is moving. Currently one Rig has the bottom clearence lights on a alternating flasher as well. We really don't have too much difficulty with traffic though, I think that our reputation is well known (we're coming through, like it or not) and everyone gives us plenty of room.
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  12. #12
    Forum Member firenresq77's Avatar
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    No warning lights on unless you are trying to block/direct traffic or you are responding. No need for them otherwise.......

  13. #13
    Forum Member SafetyPro's Avatar
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    Originally posted by WTFD10
    You wanna see people really disregard flashing red lights, it's when we are trying to get back into quarters. We almost had two firemen hit last night.
    Yeah same here...and was me last time. We got back from a drill, and I got off the engine to get eastbound traffic. The ambulance happened to be right there eastbound, so they hit their lights to hold traffic for me. I looked back at the engine for a moment, and heard a yell from the ambo...turned back to see a car that had tried to whip around him. Luckily the driver stopped and was getting yelled at by our guy on the ambulance. Wasn't exactly what I'd call a close call (car was about 30-40 feet from me), but coulda been.
    Chris Gaylord
    Emergency Planner / Fire Captain, UC Santa Cruz FD

  14. #14
    unrepentant fool ranahan's Avatar
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    The only case I can think of where one might make the ride back to your quarters while running your lights is this:

    In our area, some EMS agencies base at least one crew (maybe more) at their nearest hospital. Assuming one of these ambulances might have emergency traffic going back to the hospital that ALSO serves as their quarters, I can see how someone might've given that answer.

    But beyond that, I can't imagine why anyone would operate their emergency lights on the return trip to their station.

    As for my agencies, we follow the same rules that everyone else here has mentioned: responding to emergencies, traffic control, parades, and backing into quarters. Also, if we need to back into traffic in order to get an apparatus turned around while on scene, we'll flip on the emergency lights then as an additional warning device.

  15. #15
    MembersZone Subscriber Firefighter1219's Avatar
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    The only time I run lights is if I am running to a call, pulling off of the main road into the station or turning in the middle of the road. The only time I run them after a call is if I am sitting on the side of the road refilling at a hydrant (for my protection).
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  16. #16
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Negative on the lights returning from a call.

    They are used when backing the rig into quarters at our Station 2 (built in 1892..small apron out front and on a busy street)and when backing up at a scene, otherwise, they are off.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 07-30-2004 at 11:32 AM.
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  17. #17
    Forum Member RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo
    Negative on the lights returning from a call.

    They are used when backing the rig into quarters at our Station 2 (built in 1892..small apron out front and on a busty street)and when backing up at a scene, otherwise, they are off.
    on a busty street hehehehe nice typo!!! *wicked evil grin*
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    One town in my vicinity does this (at least within the last three years). Talk about friggin confusing...I'm at a green traffic light and my lane of traffic won't move 'cause there's a fire truck with all it's red lights spinning sitting waiting for it's red signal to turn green. Department (and town) seriously stuck somewhere in the 1960s -- same year I also saw them go out on a drill night with guys in tee-shirts & shorts on the rear bumper without even such a 70s innovation like a safety strap.

    The one single exception I can see is the rare situation of exceptionally bad (gridlocked) traffic. I also use this for move-up situations in the same gridlocked conditions -- I've seen roads where if a cover company didn't use lights & sirens it might take them 30 or 45 minutes to reach the place they're supposed to be covering. Both should be very, very, very unusual events but in my mind are situations that should be valid for legally running L&S (not saying they are legal, just we should have such discretion.)
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  19. #19
    Forum Member firemanpat29's Avatar
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    Anything you do on a BUSTY street to get attention is a good thing
    seriously the only time we run lights when returning is while
    turning around,or making a Uturn on a four lane. And of course
    laying on the airhorn when passing members house's that stayed in bed at
    3am and let you run the rubish call by yourself would be a bad
    thing to do
    Last edited by firemanpat29; 07-30-2004 at 12:08 PM.

  20. #20
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    Yep, another goofy, senseless poll from Firehouse.

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