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Thread: Traffic Control

  1. #1
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    Default Traffic Control

    Please leave this in this category. I know it falls more under scene safety, or something like that, but I'd like to see the responses it would get being in a normal firefighting forum.

    Anyway, quite simply, how does your department handy traffic and/or crowd control? This goes for both traditional fire calls and rescue calls.

    Do you handle it within your department, or do you hand it off to police or fire police?

    If you do it yourselves, do you have guys working on setting up a perimeter or safety zone right away? or do you wait until it becomes a problem?

    ---
    My department, we have police dispatched along with us, so sometimes they're there before we are, sometimes they don't show up until we're cleaning up.

    If it's a firecall, we don't reallly have any specific SOP regarding traffic control. Showing up on scene someone generally throws down some cones or flares and blocks off our scene. Generally policy is to just block off the road, wait for the cops to worry about something more complicated.

    Rescue calls its the same thing. Block off the road and wait for the scene to be cleared or police to show up before traffic is let through.

    How do you guys do it?


  2. #2
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    For MVA's and any kind of incident in the street, we do the traffic control. This is a small town. There are only three cops on the road during the day and two at night. The cop for the sector that accident was in has to do his thing for the accident investigation, reports, and enforcement action. That officer can not do traffic. To send the only two remaining officers in town just to do traffic would be irrisponsible since it would leave the entire town unprotected as far as law enforcement.

    All of our apparatus have traffic control equipment concisting of cones, vests, and stop/slow signs. The engines and rescues have flares and traffic wands. We keep sawhorse baricades in the utility pickup truck for blockades that don't need to be manned. A normal MVA respond is the heavy rescue, two engines, and perhaps the EMS truck is needed or someone takes it (not required). While the MVA itself doesn't need two engines with 2000 gallons of water, they provide physical protection and traffic control personel and equipment. Many times, that second due engine is no where near the MVA; they are sent to the next intersection or around a curve to shut down or control traffic from there.

    If there is room for one lane of travel, we will do alternating flows of traffic with personel on each end doing the stop/slow thing. They have radios for communication with the other end and command.

    In the very early stages of a serious MVA, patient care, extrication, and hazzard mitigation is obviously a top priority over traffic flow. Often the first unit on scene will simply block the road completely. With the traffic flow stopped, there is no traffic hazzard and we can do what we need to do on scene until sufficient personel are on scene to establish a safe traffic control pattern.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  3. #3
    Early Adopter cozmosis's Avatar
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    We almost always rely on police to handle traffic control. Our staffing is very limited, so on injury MVAs, we're usually tied up treating patients. On a fire call, its impossible to free people up for such details. However, if we've been known to help with traffic control if injuries are minor or non-existant and the cops are short staffed.

    In the end, the safety of the members is the FDs responsibility. Sure, traffic usually falls under the cops' umbrella, but if they don't do it, somebody has to to insure the safety of the firefighters operating.

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    Luckily, the Sheriff's Department is very well staffed and we get a quick response. Usual BS EMS calls gets us 2 units, MVA 3-4 units plus a state trooper if it's on a state highway, and a fire maybe 1 or 2 more, so traffic and crowd control generally not an issue. We do roll an extra truck though, so that we can have something big between us and the traffic. Realtionship is great as they do whatever we ask on scene, and we let them hang, drink coffee and wash thier cruisers at our station.

    On the Interstate with the LSP, life has been a little different lately. Since Novemeber, we have had a running fued with the State Police about closing down a lane. We had several incidents in Decemeber and January with brush fires (smoke and FFers operating on the breakdown lane issues) where they refused to shut down a lane for us, so we ended up shutting it down with a piece of apparatus. In fact, in one case a trooper demanded that a sheriff, who was cloing a lane for us as there were no troopers on scene, move his car and open the lane back up. We had an incident where a trooper questioned us calling the med-chopper and we had a very heated argument with him until the supervisor arrived and shut down the road as the bird circled. Finally just two weeks ago we had an incident where a trooper refused to shut down a lane at a MVA, and once agian we closed it with a engine. Once again, words were exchanged.

    We have had issues in the past from what I understand, but this, according to the old-timers, is one of the worst periods. Our chief has a meeting with the teroop commander next week, and hopefully it can be worked out.

  5. #5
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    Our Dept of labor recently enacted a very strict policy on firefighters controlling traffic. It specifically says you need 5 cones before the scene and 5 leading away, two hot pink signs saying Emergency Scene and hours of training regarding the proper use of all the equipement. According to them, all this must be done before any operation can start! In contrast the police have no requirements at all for traffic control! So guess who's doing 100% of traffic control in our 'burg? Damn right, let the cops do it!

    PS- The firefighter traffic rule was pushed through by a Fire Chief whose town might do 75 calls a year! Thanks alot you MUTT! How about taking a stance on something realistic!

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    What state RFDACM?

    For that matter, unless you've seen it on agency letterhead (and I mean a state agency)...I have a feeling someone is using the old "ah, they said we had to do it" excuse -- by that, I mean someone says something they want to be true and justify it by something they don't understand.

    The rules for placing cones, signs (including the flourescent pink color), etc are contained in a document called the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

    I doubt an OSHA organization would just kind of make up their own half-*** interpretation of MUTCD (which the five cones and two signs is -- MUTCD "requirements" vary depending on road speeds, highway design, and incident duration...and I use "requirements" in quotes because it specifically recognizes the challenges posed by emergency scenes).

    At the very worse case, MUTCD may impose on a FD that they place proper cones / signage / etc for a pre-planned exercise -- like a drill or hydrant testing. MUTCD outlines optional ways to sign emergency scenes, but the specifically recognize the transient nature of most incidents; and for the longer duration incidents IMHO it really becomes an issue for the local or state Highway Departments to setup signage when detours start being measured by "days" (half a day, a day, weeks...)

    I'm not panning MUTCD, because it offers some great ideas -- nothing wrong with going with larger cones, and I really like the pink signs idea so they stand out. But there was some in the fire service who where reading way more into it that it explicitly stated wasn't there.

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    Forum Member VinnieB's Avatar
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    If we have to close a street.....we just block it. Actually every run in my area.....we block the street, except for an EMS run....we try to make room for everyone. But for everything else.....the street get blocked....not much room anyway....with both sides of the street parking and the size of the rigs. For Car fires and MVA....the Truck Co. uses there apparatus to block traffic. To many members in the past have been struck and killed.
    IACOJ Member

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    Here in Pa. most volunteer and many combo departments have state trained Fire Police. They are usually older veteran firefighters who recognize the importance of controlling traffic and crowds at the scene of fires and MVAs, and are certified by the state in traffic control, crowd control,and highway incident safety. Many departments have set their own minimum standards for the FP in their department which go farther and include certifications in hazmat R&I, EVOC, first aid, CPR, and fire scene legal concerns.
    Regardless of the type of call their number one concern is to protect the safety of the fire crews working the incident.

    Because you are dealing in these types of departments with volunteers, fire police response usually shadows that of the regular response for calls. There are times and types of calls which bring out half a dozen fire police to control the scene, while at other times you might get a response of one, and you must rely on the local police to help in traffic control.

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    The PD handles traffic control. Of course, a big red truck blocking the roadway has the same effect.

    Crowd control.. we usually assign someone to set up the barrier tape to demarcate the area where we do not anybody to enter. Those who feel that the Fire Line: Do Not Cross warning on said tape does not apply to them will recieve one freindly warning, then the brothers in blue will be requested to let the persons who ignore the warning wear "silver bracelets" and a ride in a cruiser to the local constabulary.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmatian190
    What state RFDACM?

    For that matter, unless you've seen it on agency letterhead (and I mean a state agency)...I have a feeling someone is using the old "ah, they said we had to do it" excuse -- by that, I mean someone says something they want to be true and justify it by something they don't understand.
    State Dept. of Labor, brand new rules as I said pushed through by a Fire Chief who has nothing better to do at a scene then set up the cones. Yes, its on their (DOL) letterhead and they're giving classes all over the state. I don't disagree that proper traffic control can save our lives, but like Vinnie says, we just shutdown the road. To address the new DOL standard we shut down the road and tell PD to handle the traffic.

    Our, DOL is fast becoming famous for making up rules by copying what they like and leaving out what they don't like. The best ruling yet: we wanted to put 9-11 remembrance patches on the turnout gear. The old chief said only if DOL allows it. DOL says yes but any patches must be sewn on with nomex thread and must display an american flag and 9-11 on them! OK this was what we wanted but how stupid is the ruling. Do american flag patches pose less of a threat than an Italian flag? Why nomex thread? Becuase it doesn't burn- great so I've got a burning patch sewn on that wont fall off? If the patch goes up you're in real trouble and I'd rather have the stupid thing fall off anyway. So we got the same commerative patch but could not put our dept.'s patch ont he gear cause it might cause a spontaneous firefighter explosion! Yeah, DOL is just looking out for us!

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    Dal,That would be the state of MAINE and it's not a suggestion,it's LAW! DOL is getting to be like Hippa,neither is your friend. Now lessee,where am I going to store those 10 cones per unit and even better;the sign. Hehe T.C.

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    I'm shaking my head a bit at good ideas gone bad. Seems like they took the MUTCD which includes things like giving an incident manager 15 minutes to decide what level of "temporary traffic controls" are needed, and places signs based on highway speeds...and munged it all up...to force people to place signs really quickly in places the Engineers who designed the original standards will tell you are wrong.

    Anyway, for the cones...a couple of our trucks have the bottom cone bolted to the back step diamond plate. Makes a nice holder for the rest The 24" high cones where nicer, the new 36" or whatever these monsters are can be a pain.

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    Forum Member MemphisE34a's Avatar
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    I will block traffic with apparatus, but we will not direct traffic. Police responsibility if they show up and actually get out of the car.
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    Forum Member allineedisu's Avatar
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    That is the copís job. Our job is fighting the fire. Yes in PA they have fire police in the small burgs. Larger cities don't, they have real cops to do the traffic. Our guys will block out the intersection only if we have control of the block and have it pretty much tied up with apparatus. Other than that we leave access so other companies can proceed it the fire block if needed. By the way the chief officers responding and the fire marshals don not need to park their cars in the fire block. Park outside the block and walk in. This way, when you are cut loose you can walk back to the car and leave without being trapped by apparatus!!
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    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    The police handles all traffic control. Not saying that we don't place traffic cones and use apparatus to block out cars from coming into the fire block, since they wasn't invited as we were!!
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101
    Dal,That would be the state of MAINE and it's not a suggestion,it's LAW! DOL is getting to be like Hippa,neither is your friend. Now lessee,where am I going to store those 10 cones per unit and even better;the sign. Hehe T.C.
    101 -Thanks I forgot to name our illustrious DOL (Maine). We ended up having to figure where this traffic control stuff will go on our new tower. Talk about expensive real estate, compartment space is in high demand in our dept. So far just the Chief and safety officer have had the training per DOL. I just block the road with the truck and request PD for traffic control on both sides of the scene.

    101- as many wrecks as you guys do over there you might as well by stock in the traffic supply store. Seriously are you guys trying to comply? Or maybe are complying?
    Last edited by RFDACM; 04-04-2006 at 07:42 PM.

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