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  1. #1
    Forum Member HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
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    Default why do we love lights on BRT, but hate lights on POVs?

    OK, this is a topic that has constantly confused the hell out of me.

    Many veteran members of both fire departments and these forums have stated that they hate it when volunteer have emergency lights on their POVs. This applies to both paid and volunteer firefighters. They say it's unprofessional, unneccessary, and makes people a moving road hazards. They also say that you can get to the station just as fast without any lights as you can with.

    We also have members that say as long as you are following your individual state laws, and not violating any vehicle safety and traffic laws, using emergency lights on your POV is permitted.

    Then we have those that like putting strobes in every headlight, taillight, reverse light, and turn signal, and have a $6000 light bar on a $3000 car. and if I see someone who has a car like that responding to the station for a call, I know they are compensating for certain inadequacies

    anyway, my question is posed to those who fall into the first group. if it is so wrong to have lights on a POV, why do we put LED lightbars, the loudest Federal Q, the loudest airhorns, the most powerful strobe pack we can afford, and as many lights as we can on our fire trucks? Why do we train our drivers to drive with due regard in the BRT, and safely bend traffic rules (light red lights)? we do we send 3 engines, 1 truck and a chief to a frequent activated fire alarm (all with lights and sirens going), when we know 95% of the time it's a false alarm? Why do we pack up in the moving engine, and jump out with tools in hand (and yes, I know phoenix is/was considering storing all SCBAs in compartments)? maybe the answer is so we can get on scene faster, and begin mitigating the emergency as soon as possible?

    why is it ok to put someone behind the wheel of a multi-ton fire engine, and use their lights and sirens to get to the scene of the call faster, but when a volunteer (who might be driving that same engine) wants to do the same, he is considered a hazard to the road and should not be permitted to do so?
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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  2. #2
    Forum Member cellblock's Avatar
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    I'm interested in seeing where this goes since I brought it up in the Volunteer Forum.
    http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sho...1&pagenumber=2

  3. #3
    Forum Member snowball's Avatar
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    Default Re: why do we love lights on BRT, but hate lights on POVs?

    Originally posted by DrParasite
    OK,

    why is it ok to put someone behind the wheel of a multi-ton fire engine, and use their lights and sirens to get to the scene of the call faster, but when a volunteer (who might be driving that same engine) wants to do the same, he is considered a hazard to the road and should not be permitted to do so?
    Plain and simple, their POV does not carry any equipment necessary to perform the duties required at an emergency scene. If they get there before the engine or truck, then they are more useless than the person who called it in.

  4. #4
    Forum Member HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Re: why do we love lights on BRT, but hate lights on POVs?

    Originally posted by snowball

    Plain and simple, their POV does not carry any equipment necessary to perform the duties required at an emergency scene. If they get there before the engine or truck, then they are more useless than the person who called it in.
    very true, however all of the "equipment neccessary to perform the duties required at an emergency scene" are pretty useless without the firefighters or EMTs who use it. without those trained people, all it is is really cool looking toys. and again, most places don't have the call volume to support having a paid, inhouse staff on duty 24/7.

    and lets not forget about those who keep EMS equipment in their POVs, sometimes on a level equal to that of a department vehicle. They can apply oxygen just as good as the fire engine can.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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    MembersZone Subscriber pvfire424's Avatar
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    Default "useless as the one who called it in"...

    I am sure the poster did not mean it the way it sounded. However without the (I'm paraphrasing here) "the useless individual, or many useless individuals" who called in any particular fire, or possible fire, then we would all sleep for 8 strait hours every night, and we would just read about the fires that destroyed the sturcture in question in the morning news.

    Anyway that rant aside. It basically boils down to the fact that there are the "Whackers" out there who simply get a rush from speeding to the station or the scene, and give little thought to what they will do oncde they get there. I personally have no problem with POV's with lights, but I can certainly see the point of those who are against them.

    HOWEVER you get there, get there safe !!!

  6. #6
    Forum Member firenresq77's Avatar
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    Default Re: Re: why do we love lights on BRT, but hate lights on POVs?

    Originally posted by snowball

    Plain and simple, their POV does not carry any equipment necessary to perform the duties required at an emergency scene. If they get there before the engine or truck, then they are more useless than the person who called it in.
    What about those that respond to the station to pick up the apparatus, instead of going to the scene?

  7. #7
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    Red face

    Plain and simple, their POV does not carry any equipment necessary to perform the duties required at an emergency scene. If they get there before the engine or truck, then they are more useless than the person who called it in.
    In my vehicle I have a BLS jumpkit and my firegear. I'm equipped to provided BLS medical care for what's in my scope of practice. There isn't much else that an ambulance has in their "bag" that I dont have in mine. I don't carry a full set of splints, backboards, KED, car seat for children, and all that jazz because I don't need it. It would be a waste of my money, or my departments money to have every member have a full rescue truck in their trunk. We have the rescue rolling with 1 or 2, and I'm only there to assist with providing care until it arrives.

    Oh, and I go with the flow of traffic, no lights and sirens. The only "emergency" lights I have in my car are my hazards, and those are only turned on if I'm parked on the side of the road.

  8. #8
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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    Do seconds save lives? And if they do, from where can we safely shave seconds without endangering ourselves, our partners, and the public?

    Does exceeding the posted speed limit save lives, or endanger lives? Is there a measurable difference in outcomes because of 35mph vs. 55mph in a local response? Emergency warning equipment is great for getting through congestion, proceeding SAFELY through intersections, and to encourage other vehicles to yield to oncoming emergency vehicles -- things that I feel CAN reclaim measurable time in a safe manner.

    It goes back to state laws. Many (not all) define emergency vehicles as municipal public safety vehicles, authorized to be marked, lettered, and equipped with full audio/visual warning devices.

    These states often restrict volunteer/call POV's to "single x-color lights mounted x-inches above the bumper", etc.

    And going back to state law, the reason for this is that USUALLY, only emergency vehicles can take advantage of the privileges afforded to them by state law. A speeding emergency vehicle is NOT breaking the law (using due regard, of course)... nor is it bending the rules. It is afforded this privilege PROVIDED it is properly equipped to do so, and is using the appropriate warning devices prescribed by law.

    I think some agencies/states create a very unsafe situation when you allow 20 personnel in their own vehicles to speed, run stop lights, pass unsafely with lights and sirens blaring. Let's be honest: it happens even in the states that don't consider personal vehicles to be emergency vehicles. Sometimes law enforcement looks the other way, sometimes they don't. Given the stupid things I've seen, I don't think it should be allowed. I think people are more accountable when they are operating a municipal emergency vehicle versus their own vehicle. I'm not saying that we still don't screw up in municipally owned vehicles... I'm saying that when we DO screw up, people are held accountable for their actions.

    Personnally, as a call firefighter, I think it's stupid to have your car/truck outfitted with anything and everything from the Gall's chapter on emergency warning equipment. But if some people choose to do it and your state allows it, hey, it's your car. I challenge people to just drive with the flow of traffic to see how much time you are actually saving.

    Resort communities, busy tourist hot spots, places with congestion issues... perhaps staffing the station is the solution rather than having people drive like maniacs from all directions. Those of you who live in states that allow you to respond in your car/truck with lights and sirens... is your insurance company aware of this? If you collide, is your town willing to place you under their umbrella insurance-wise? Just because you "think so" or you "heard" they will once... you might want to be sure of it.
    Last edited by Resq14; 11-01-2004 at 08:02 PM.
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    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Why? Apparatus needs them, POV's do not.

    Dave

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    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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    haha

    I should've made mine that short and sweet.

    DITTO
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  11. #11
    Forum Member ndvfdff33's Avatar
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    Default

    Originally posted by Dave1983
    Why? Apparatus needs them, POV's do not.

    Dave
    Great Post
    If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

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    MembersZone Subscriber mcaldwell's Avatar
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    Default

    I am a moderate on this one. If you can really justify lights on your vehicles due to extended response distances, etc, and your district/state/province allows it, have fun.

    However, here's my take on the issue.

    1. Having lights and sirens coming from all directions in an urban setting only serves to confuse the public. If BRT 1 is heading westbound to the scene, and POV 1 is heading eastbound to the hall on the same road (both code 3), where do the public go to get out of the way? Sirens go in one direction to the scene, not the firehall.

    2. Lights on the BRT are there to warn the public that a big heavy piece of iron is barreling down the road. You can't handle or pass with that truck very quickly or safely, so we need the public to help by getting out of the way instead of the other way around. Your POV is very manueverable and you can avoid hazards just fine with it.

    3. Having a POS POV with lights and FD markings only serves to make the fire dept appear less professional. We have to accept that PR is a big part of our job, and the more professional we come off as, the easier it will be to justify our actions (I know this isn't always an issue, but it can be.)

    4. In general, POV's tie up space on the scene, and restrict traffic flow. The less POV's on scene the better. However, if you really need them to carry personnel, you really need them. No arguement from me. It is however, the Chief's responsibility to ensure these vehicles are safe, and insured correctly for transporting personnel. Don't allow a fellow FF to lose his benefits or coverage because his response was illegal or in violation of his insurance.

    And unless you live in an extremely rural setting where you have to travel 10 km just to get to the hall, I don't think the time savings issue is nearly as big as it is made out to be. In the rural volley setting, how many times would you have honestly saved someone within 30 seconds of arriving who would have otherwise died? And how many times have you had a close call because you were speeding to the hall? I have found through my experience, that with our 10+ minute responses, we have yet to see a call where thirty seconds would have made a significant difference to the outcome anyway.

    We know that most firefighter fatalities occur while responding, including in POV's, so the arguement that it only takes one save to justify it is worthless. Dead Heros can't help anyone.
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  13. #13
    Forum Member snowball's Avatar
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    Mee too!

    Look, I do a lot of code 3 driving, when I drive I obey ALL traffic laws, we are allowed to push the speed limit up by 5mph. I still stop at all stop signs-lights, wait for the intersections to clear before proceeding. True, it gets you there a little faster, but not much...I know I know, seconds count in this line of work. However in my area the general public as a whole would not recognize a Dodge Dart or a Ford Ranger blowing through an intersection with a blue light magnetized to the roof. If it isn't a big truck or a squad car folks around here won't give it any courtesy. In reality when driving code 3 all you are doing is asking people to move over to let you by.

    For those of you that go out and buy O2 kits and med bags, I salute you. Your dedication is duly noted. Just be careful, running headlong into a home to save someone before the medic unit or engine arrives, could make you a victim too because you didn't have a Co detector. Or you find out too late that it is an un-secure scene because your scanner or pager skipped, and you walk in on a guy who had a really bad day and has a gun. There are many more reason why ALS and BLS units run with two people, ever work a code on a 400lb person by yourself? I wouldn't want to.
    No I'm sticking to my guns and going with the no vote on E-lighted POV's.

  14. #14
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    Just be careful, running headlong into a home to save someone before the medic unit or engine arrives, could make you a victim too because you didn't have a Co detector. Or you find out too late that it is an un-secure scene because your scanner or pager skipped, and you walk in on a guy who had a really bad day and has a gun. There are many more reason why ALS and BLS units run with two people, ever work a code on a 400lb person by yourself? I wouldn't want to.
    If you don't have proper communications (IE: A radio or phone connection to dispatch + other units) you shouldn't be responding, period. I always ask my dispatcher, whether it's a MVA to an assault victim if a safe scene and if there are any hazards I need to know of. Quite often PD will be there before us, and request us to respond.

    And I don't think anyone ever said that you'd be "working" alone. It's a matter of being there before the rescue, or having the rescue on another call and having to wait for the engine to arrive. Ignoring safety procedures and communications protocol is not a reason that we should be putting ourselves in danger by responding unsafely and blindfolded.

    Just a little extra food for thought from my views
    Last edited by 42VTExplorer; 11-01-2004 at 10:44 PM.

  15. #15
    Forum Member HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Dave1983
    Why? Apparatus needs them, POV's do not.

    Dave
    That has to be, one of the stupidest posts i've ever read. it's the whole "I'm right because I say I'm right." which of course means your either too stupid to actually defend your opinion with detail, too lazy to actually use your brain (to quote tom hanks, it's the thing 3 feet above your ***), or you are so afraid of being different from the rest, that you simply fear expressing your own opinion, and will side with the vocal people here. I don't know, you tell me which it is.

    1. Having lights and sirens coming from all directions in an urban setting only serves to confuse the public. If BRT 1 is heading westbound to the scene, and POV 1 is heading eastbound to the hall on the same road (both code 3), where do the public go to get out of the way? Sirens go in one direction to the scene, not the firehall.
    hmm, you have 2 engines and a truck responding code 3, all from different firehouses. wouldn't this cause the same confusing among the public if they arrived at an intersection at the same time? so yeah, there goes that arguement
    We know that most firefighter fatalities occur while responding, including in POV's, so the arguement that it only takes one save to justify it is worthless.
    hmm, last I checked, heart attacks were the leading cause of firefighter LODD.... maybe you have a different source that I do?

    ResQ14, great first post. you actually used good examples to support your claims. however, what if someone is following their state law and has lights in their POV? people complain that even in state that permit x color lights, that they should be eliminated. and they are following what their state permits them to have.
    There are many more reason why ALS and BLS units run with two people, ever work a code on a 400lb person by yourself? I wouldn't want to.
    excelent point!!!! EMS crews work in pairs. we'll pretend that 1 man flycars and supervisor vehicles don't exist , but that is a very good point. but do you know how long it takes from the time a cardiac arrest occurs to the time the patient start to suffer brain damage? while one person alone won't transport, they can initiate care which will enable the person to have oxygen going back to their brain. and if need be, you will have a 3rd man to assist in transporting that 400 lb person into the ambulance. but we are getting off topic.

    this isn't about responding to a scene in your POV, but rather how it's allowed and encouraged for apparatus to have lights, but it's looked down on for POVs to. anyone else have an intelligent contribution? maybe one of our senior IACOJs or 1000+ posters?
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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    Judging from the locations of most of the posters here, the question is really pointless. Sirens and lights are for expediting response through CONGESTED traffic. Seeing as most of these POV responders probably live in rural (extremely rural) areas, I doubt they have more than 1 traffic light in their response area, much less congestion. And if they are one of the East Coast townships with a vollie dept, let's be real- the whole downtown area is less than 1 sq mile. Many of these responders can walk to the station faster than driving.
    Licensed dept vehicles must show maintennance records and and carry the proper amount of eqpt.
    A POV with a blinkie light could have crappy brakes and busted brake lights. Wow, that's safe.
    Shall we look at the inordinate amount of POV responders killed while driving to the firehouse? Or riding their bikes to the firehouse?
    Respond lights and siren once you're IN the eninge/ambulance.
    You might live a little longer, and the civilians might too.
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  17. #17
    Forum Member HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mittlesmertz
    Judging from the locations of most of the posters here, the question is really pointless. Sirens and lights are for expediting response through CONGESTED traffic. Seeing as most of these POV responders probably live in rural (extremely rural) areas, I doubt they have more than 1 traffic light in their response area, much less congestion. And if they are one of the East Coast townships with a vollie dept, let's be real- the whole downtown area is less than 1 sq mile. Many of these responders can walk to the station faster than driving.
    Licensed dept vehicles must show maintennance records and and carry the proper amount of eqpt.
    A POV with a blinkie light could have crappy brakes and busted brake lights. Wow, that's safe.
    Shall we look at the inordinate amount of POV responders killed while driving to the firehouse? Or riding their bikes to the firehouse?
    Respond lights and siren once you're IN the eninge/ambulance.
    You might live a little longer, and the civilians might too.
    hmmm, lets try to address this one point at a time. I live in New Jersey, which is the most densly populated state in the nation. and while the firehouse is two blocks from my house (and I'm the 2nd closest guy to the station), the squad is close to 3 miles, our main firehouse is about 3.5 miles, and our other station is in the north end of town. so yeah, you really can't walk to it. and I don't know where you come from, road are congested whether you are driving a POV or a BRT. it's not like you hop into a BRT, and cars magically appear (although it would seem that way). a POV might be poorly maintained, but where I come from, we keep our vehicles in relatively good shape. after all, would you want to be driving anywhere in a car with crappy brakes and busted brake lights? I know I wouldn't. and what "inordinate amount of POV responders killed while driving to the firehouse" are you referring to? yes, there have been LODDs from FFs responding in their POVs, however there have also been FFs killed while responding in department vehicles.
    Respond lights and siren once you're IN the eninge/ambulance. You might live a little longer, and the civilians might too.
    hmmm, a very interesting comment. so i'm guessing ambulances never get into accidents? neither do fire trucks? and we all know that cops have never crashed. and you know, i bet civilians have never been killed in any of those accidents. because that just doesn't happen
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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  18. #18
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mittlesmertz
    Sirens and lights are for expediting response through CONGESTED traffic.
    Not necessarily. Some states define what steps must be taken to use the privileges afforded to them by law... and often that includes full use of lights, and sirens (and in Maine, even a bell if you have one!).

    Also, from what I know of my area and several posters, the 1 traffic light towns and 1 sq mile areas aren't a fair comparison.

    OTHERWISE, I agree.
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  19. #19
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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    Originally posted by DrParasite

    however, what if someone is following their state law and has lights in their POV? people complain that even in state that permit x color lights, that they should be eliminated. and they are following what their state permits them to have.
    In Maine, they're "courtesy lights."

    I do think they're dumb. For some areas during the summer though, departments supposedly rely on them. I say, bite the bullet and provide minimal staffing to at least roll the truck out of the congestion.
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    Forum Member SpartanGuy's Avatar
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    Parasite and I have locked horns on this topic many a time, isn't that right Parasite

    Resq14 made a number of very good points. It all depends on your topographics and what you have to deal with. We have two stations in a suburban area with outlying rural areas at the eastern fringes of our response area. We cover a LOT of interstate and heavily congested highway(route 40 and route 19 are the most heavily congested) and firefighters buzzing around with blue lights on is a bigger hazard than we've judged it to be worth. We don't provide ALS on a normal basis(we're equipped to do it if the ambulance service is tied up), and the ambulance service that covers our township is johnny on the spot with the rig. Factor that in with the paid firefighters on for the daytime, and all of the close-by firefighters are at home at night(including myself).

    I know I've jumped the gun with my anti-blue light antics in previous posts without explaining my situation, but neighboring departments, and even a few of our former members, had a bad history of abusing blue lights, with even a few accidents, and we deemed it not worth the added risk for the little benefit we would recieve.

    To answer the question of the original post, we don't allow POV lights because our firefighters(other than the chief and his senior line officers) don't carry any piece of equipment in our vehicles other than a portable radio. They're not equipped to handle any sort of incident other than BLS activities that they can provide without equipment. That lack of equipment, of course, extends from the prohibition on blue lights, but at the time it was enacted, around a decade ago, the department didn't have the money to equip everyone's POV with the necessary equipment to be a mini-rescue.

    In my opinion, the benefit of having POV responders get there maybe a minute or so before the BYT(our average response time from tones to arrival is 4-5 minutes, which is pretty damned good for a combo-dept) doesn't outweigh the benefits they face from lack of protection provided by a full engine crew manning a truck with a 1,000 gallon tank and a full compliment of equipment.

    But hey, as it's been said on this thread, do a risk/benefit analysis. If it works for you, do it safely.
    Last edited by SpartanGuy; 11-02-2004 at 12:07 AM.
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