1. #1
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    Default drivers and siren use

    my company is putting the final touches on our new ladder truck, one issue we are having is that some guys want to give the driver a siren control as well as the officer, i dont like this because i feel if the driver is controlling the siren then he is not in full control of the rig and on top of that i have been in the officer seat and i cant hear orders, give orders, or come clear over the radio because as soon as i back off of the siren just a little the driver lays on it again, im curious to see the opinions of others, thanks. be safe

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    AAAAA...A hot topic in my house too. I agree w/ you totally. But I also like the driver to had some control over the audibles becasue he may see something the Officer can't...especially if the officer is looking at an MDT/KDT, map, pre-plan info, or whatever.....What we did was put an option switch in the engine...if its on then the driver has control only of the audibles...if its off then both have control. All the switch does is kills the circut to the officers side...(yes we do things wierd here... ) And the reason is because we allow non-officers to ride in the officer's seat in the absence of an officer ....and that includes jonnys... who like to stand on the siren and air horns....so that's why we put it on the drivers side...Its worked so far...
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    First of all, the driver is there to drive. He or she is not there to operate sirens, air horns, radios, or any other thing that requires their attention, other than the road the ride is traveling on.


    I think it may be a NFPA requirement to have a foot switch for siren and made air horns also on the drives side. Why I do not know. Our policy is that the driver doesn't operate any of these items.

    In the old days when we ran two piece companies, the wagon would be ahead of the pumper with was occupied by a sole member, who happen to be the driver! They had to operate the siren then. That was the only permitted time that a driver of a fire apparatus could do that.

    Now, what happens to the member who is in a car, service van or otherwise a driver only vehicle responding to a call? That they use the electronic siren selp on the wail mode and both hands on the steering wheel.

    So make a rule and requirement that the driver DOES NOT operated the siren, air horns or radio. Period!!!
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    This whole thing goes out the window for a small volunteer dept where the first and maybe second units out the door might only have a driver.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Default Re: drivers and siren use

    Originally posted by UDFD26
    i feel if the driver is controlling the siren then he is not in full control of the rig
    Horse crap!

    How the hell does tapping your toe cause you to lose control of the truck? It is certianly much less of an effort/distraction to use a foot pedal than to reach over and flip the eletrical siren from wail to yelp.

    Our SOG calls for the officer to run the siren and horn, but for the first minute or so the officer is busy packing up, checking the map, and issuing orders. If I had to wait for him to crank up the Q I'd either have to pull over or turn off my lights.

    Besides, he may not see the car backing out into the street. I am in a better position to observe hazards and attempt to mitigate the problem by sounding an alert. If the officer has his nose in a map what good are his pedals?

    Personally I like to have the officer take the Q while I have the Grovers under toe. Its completely a mindless task to manage the horn, you see any hazard you tap a couple times. I get more distracted listening to the size up or straining to hear who's rolling second due.

    I don't know how people got it in their minds that sirens cause drivers to loose control of the truck, but unless its a hand cranked air-raid siren I don't buy it. I can see where if you had to reach for the controls (such as the old fashion pull chains for the horns) the driver has to let go of the wheel, that's a hazard, but foot pedals? Please.

    Other reasons to put them on the driver's side?
    -Solo operators (per nmfire)
    -Evacuation signals by the pump operator
    -If one pedal breaks there is a back up
    -Allows you to plaster the Lt to the wall as he steps in front of the truck
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    Dual foot switches on both sides.
    Sometimes the officer is busy doing other things and doesnt see whats going on as far as traffic and hazards are concerned.

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    Down here (New Zealand) the Driver can override the Officer and turn the siren on if he feels justified because of road hazards.

    The Officer has to accept that the Driver is responsible for the safety of the crew and get on with his job.

    At the same time there is a switch the Officer can operate from his side... It turns the siren ON not off.
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    As a driver at the low end of the senority list, I have to travel from station to station, driving a variety of different lieutenants, who in turn have a colorful variety of personnel habits. Among those habits is the use of the emergency "bells and whistles", including horns, sirens, etc. Some like to turn our little control device (attached to the roof between the Lt and myself) to themselves, way out of my reach, and some like to leave the sound-making up to me.
    Some of our engines have floor pedals, but out newer trucks allow use of the federal Q and the air horn through the steering wheel. The siren control is between the Lt. and I, but with a quick switch before I get moving, there is no reason for me to touch that switch again - the Lt. can turn it off when we get where we are going. That leaves the big guns to me - the fed-Q and the horn. I like it this way. I feel MORE in control of my truck when I'm in charge of these devices. Let the Lt. get dressed, formulate a plan, find me a better route, listen to the size-ups, etc.
    Safety, of course, is paramount, and I see where you're coming from when you say that a driver is not fully in control of the truck when they have to use the bells and whistles, and maybe it's just a personal thing, I just feel more comfortable using them myself. Be safe ya'll.
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    I would prefer to do it myself when I'm driving (to a point). If I'm in the ambulance, the siren tones change using the vehicle horn ring. The airhorn is controlled using a footpedal.

    If I'm driving the engine, The electronic siren is controlled completely through the horn ring. The Q was something we added later, so we only have a push button between the driver and officer. Airhorn is still controlled by a pull-chain in the center. I leave the Q and Airhorn to the person riding the officer's seat, along with the radio.

    As was said before, this allows both the driver AND the officer to change something if they see something that the other doesn't.......

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    The "EQ2B" on our new rescue has the auto-cycle feature. Don't even need to touch that anymore. The airhon is a foot pedal on both sides.

    On our old rescue, it only had an electronic siren and it could be controlled by the steering wheel horn button. I usually did it unless I was fighting serious traffic and someone else was there to do it.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    I don't know what all the fuss is about. In law enforcement, where I spent a career, the driver took care of the siren, radio, and driving - because I was alone in the car! Flip the siren on and leave it, or have it wired to the horn ring. After about the second run, it all becomes automatic. Same with the radio, you learn to handle it.
    Now, since there is another person in the vehicle, let them have the radio - I prefer to take care of the siren. In fact, in our rural district, with few cross roads, we don't use the siren much. The real job of the passenger is to look for hazards like cars entering intersections from the right. He/she then warns the driver, or states "Clear Right" for the driver to proceed.

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    IMO, since the siren should be adjusted every few moments and at intersections, for maximum effect, the driver should be in control of it. If I'm looking up the road and see a vehicle I want to single out for an alert - if they look like they're going to be clueless or something - I want to be able to make different noises with the siren. The officer should be formulating his pre-plan while en route, not studying the traffic.
    --jay.

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    Everything you do besides driving is a distraction.

    An optimally equiped emergency vehicle would allow the driver to focus soley on operation their vehicle. Unfortunetly, this is not a realistic goal. Imagine truly splitting up the workload as we all have thought about one time or another, one person to drive, one to sound the horns, one to look up the address, one to talk on the radio..... Now this is a bit of a hyperbole, but it just illustrates that we do live in the real world where effective compromise must rule our decision making.

    The driver does need to keep his or her hands on the wheel as much as humanly possible. Lanyard mounted air horns and wheel mounted buttons or switches all take the drivers hands from the wheel and needlessly increase risk. Several posts have pointed out that foot pedals do distract the driver and I can imagine that more than one person is unable to coordinate the independent operation of their feet, much as some people are just unable to effectively drive a vehicle equiped with a manual transmission.

    In many departments I have worked alongside, the responsiblity for the audible sirens are placed on the officers shoulders. In my county we have 60 seconds to be on the street from the time of dispatch, and average 43 seconds countywide, obviously not enough time to grab the printout, run to the engine and get fully dressed before loading up. This leaves the undesirable situation of the officer getting dressed along the way. Is this unsafe? Yes. Does it affect their ability to accomplish all the tasks they are assigned before we get onscene? Yes. Will it change? Probably not. What usually falls by the wayside? The siren.

    Our stopgate solution is the use of the GE Powercall siren, which rests between the driver and officer, they are simply turned on and left on. In several of our apparatus the siren has been modified to only have a on/off switch, to keep drivers from reaching over and 'playing' with them. The Federal Q is operated by foot pedals from either side. Whoever is least busy at the moment is the one mashing their foot down on the pedal. Is it perfect? No, but it works well enough and gives us an acceptable level of safe vehicle operation and and officer who is able to be thinking about the emergency ground operations and not focused on the sirens.

    Sorry for the long winded speech, I seem to have a lot of free time on my hands these days.

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    Thumbs down

    Driver needs to do just that "DRIVE", Not pulling on the air horn, or switching the siren, or stomping on some toggle switch.

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    Tapping some buttons now and then is hardly unreasonable.

    Most modern and well-designed apparatus and warning equipment allow safe operation while driving.

    I'm more concerned about the department above that mandates apparatus to be on the road in x-seconds. Is anyone unbelted while the truck is responding because they don't have enough time to don their PPE?

    If so, that's not acceptable.
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    drivers drive. they have enough to think about as they get the rig to the scene that the have no need to be worrying about what siren is goin. who ever is in the officer seat is the one that should be worrying about getting people out of the way

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    The answer to your question is both driver and officer should have the option of controlling the siren. Under ideal situations, the officer should handle the siren and allow the driver to focus on driving. In other situations, the officer must handle other duties. It is short sighted to eliminate the option of the driver controlling the siren.

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    Yes, very shortsighted.

    Who is responsible for the operation of the vehicle?

    The driver. The driver should be able to control AS NEEDED the emergency warning equipment prescribed by law. The person in the officer's seat can recommend or order the driver to do something, but it still comes down to the driver's *****.

    If I couldn't access controls for emergency warning equipment, I wouldn't drive.

    Should the officer be able to access them also? Sure.
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