1. #1
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    Default Who runs the siren?

    I didn't want to revive an old thread where this statement was mentioned, so I thought I would start a new one.

    "It's the officer's job to handle the siren, radio, etc. YOU DRIVE THE TRUCK!"

    I would like to hear other Engineers opinions on this matter. My opinion is that I disagree as far as operating the siren goes. As the Driver/Engineer, I want to be in control of the siren, so that I can change from a wail to a yelp (or other setting) as needed such as when we approach an intersection or some numbnuts starts to pull out at an intersection (airhorn!). Too many times I have asked the FF in the Officer's seat to hit the yelp and because they are looking in a map book or talking on the radio, nothing gets done until we are halfway through the intersection. There half been other times where I need the siren and the officer shuts it off so he can talk on the radio.That to me is not safer than me operating the siren.
    Most, if not all, sirens these days can be installed so that the horn button on the steering wheel can be used to change a wail to a yelp, but you still have to ask to get the siren turned off or on. The airhorn can be foot-operated so your hands never leave the wheel.
    Our new rescue has all of the siren controls within easy reach (no stretching to get to it) of the Driver. If you are familiar with which way to turn the knobs to get to the siren setting, you want you never have to take your eyes off the road.
    Okay, everyone. Your opinions,please.

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    Default Drive the truck

    Drive the truck, as the driver that is what you should be doing. If there is a second person in the truck with you let him handle everything else. All it takes is one second of inattention to end up in the ditch our on your roof. And it is more than just taking your eyes off the road. Reaching over to turn a knob, grab a mike or anything else is a potential to have the steering wheel move in that direction with you. We had just that happen four days ago up here in NH with a truck on its way to a MVA. Truck is totaled and two people got a ride in the ambulance. Had to have mutual aid handle the MVA. And if changing the siren tone from wail to a yelp is more effective than why not have it on yelp to begin with?

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    Since they build new streets around here faster than anyone, even mapmakers can keep up with, my approach has been, "Officer, find me two ways into the street and two hydrants" (one before and one past the address). "I'll take care of making noise."

    Our older engine ('89 Duplex/Quality) only has controls on the driver's side, and it only has an electronic siren. I switch the siren on leaving the station and vary it as I feel appropriate. The horn button is on the floor.

    Our new engine (2007 Spartan/Toyne) has a "Q" with foot controls for it and the air horns on both sides. The electronic siren control is accessible to both the driver and the officer. I still prefer making my own noise, although I do have to admit that with two foot switches, help from the officer with the "Q" is nice. I still start the electronic siren upon leaving the station, but I find myself not varying it as much.

    FWDbuff is on vacation this week. I don't know if he took his laptop with him but I'm certain that when he comes back he'll contribute some contrary opinion.

    Stay safe out there, everyone goes home!

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    Here the driver drives...........the officer handles the siren radio etc .......you watch where you are taking us and pay attention .........the rest is my job in the seat next to you.
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
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    Yeah, J, you're right, the radio, too. All of which gives the officer plenty to do. So much so that operating the sirens and horn would be a distraction for the officer when there are other critical things for that person to do. Our electronic siren controls are positioned so that you can just reach out for it, no need to take your eyes off of the road.

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    Ive always felt that if your unable to safely handle the rig and operate a foot switch or horn button, you shouldnt be driving. Im all about safety, but come on. IMHO, its kinda silly to suggest that a driver cant hit a button.

    Its not practical to expect the officer to put an SCBA on, look in a map book, talk on the radio AND watch the road to see if he needs to wind the Q or hit the air horn. There is no reason your drivers shouldnt be able to handle that and still be safe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomwnh View Post
    And if changing the siren tone from wail to a yelp is more effective than why not have it on yelp to begin with?

    I have found that if I am following vehicles that aren't pulling to the roadside that switching tones helps. I think the constant tones of a wail gets lost in the background noise or they are too f'ing busy talking on their cellphones and by switching tones, it breaks their concentration and they now hear the fire engine behind them.

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    Default Who's driving this thing? ME or YOU!

    IMHO, if I'm driving the machine then part of my duties are to make sure that the machine and all of its personnel arrive at the scene safely, part of that process is operating the emergency warning system(s). The officer doesn't need to worry about running a siren, he needs to be checking pre-plans, listening to the radio for updated information, and a myriad of other task that doesn't include running a siren.

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    Here, the Officer runs the radio and siren.

    We are a very small community so the map book comes out once to verify the street address, and that is it. The Officer can easily manage those tasks, and allow the driver to keep two hands on the wheel (no foot switches for us).

    The little F-350 uses a sliding control switch to make it even easier, and the driver can push the wheel's horn switch to change tones.


    Originally Posted by tomwnh
    And if changing the siren tone from wail to a yelp is more effective than why not have it on yelp to begin with?
    And those tones have unique functions. In addition to just changing the sound to catch attention, the wail uses the lower frequncy tones and tends to carry farther for highway speed driving, and the yelps/phazers provide better frequency/spacial orientation for determine direction in close.

    Our usual practice is to run the wail until we approach unaware traffic or an intersection and then use the yelps as needed.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    The officer runs the Siren and handles the Mic. when i'm not the officer most of the time i'm the driver, that being said somtimes I'll hit the electronic siren if the other officer isn't making enough noise with his sirens... Most of our first due is without hydrants (vollie company) so a map book isn't really needed. IMO the officer and the driver should both have a VERY good idea of where they are going before looking in the mapbook.
    JOHN 15:13

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    When I drive the engine (admittedly, not so often these days), I run the siren. There are times when I want to project more noise and times when I want to listen to whats going on around me. (I also run with the window at least partly open year round.) That means I run the audible warnings to correspond with my driving needs.

    The siren is part of the vehicle's warning system and as the driver it is up to me, the person with the sole legal responsibility for the operation of that vehicle, to control it. I may tell the officer to blow the airhorns or switch siren tones for me on occasion but I expect him to remain hands-off otherwise and concern himself with operating the radio, updating me on any routing concerns, and preparing to deploy at the scene.

    I don't allow passengers to control the siren any more than I'd allow them to control the throttle or brakes and that's just the way it is. There are officers who have at times disagreed with this philospophy and I have happily offered to pull over and let them drive if they wanted it done differently.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    To me it is very simple. I don't care who runs the siren but if i am running red lights the siren better be on or the lights go off and I go back to normal driving mode. End of story. The state statues spell out very clearly that if the lights are on and the vehicle is moving the siren has to be on.

    The police won't write the officer a ticket for not having lights and siren operating at an accident. He will write me. Honestly for me the officer is being an *** and over stepping bounds if they won't turn the siren on or they turn it off and I am well within my rights to go back to normal driving if he does.

    By the way the old we don't want to wake up the neighbors line is simply ridiculous.

    FyredUp

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    Only time I've turned the siren on is while driving in the annual Indep Day parade. We have not even bothered to blow $ to install one on our wildland truck.

    Rural farm country, everyone is polite as can be about stopping/pulling over for the BRT. Nonissue. A blast on the air horn is enough to wake up the old folks driving 45.

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    Default The Driver Should!

    IMHO the Driver should operate the Siren while responding Code 3 because it will be his/her *** that's on the line in the event of an accident from a legal liability standpoint.

    The Driver is the one responsible for the care and control of the apparatus while its moving.

    With the many features available today on apparatus its as easy as touching the steering wheel horn button and or driver's side floor switch to activate or change the siren tones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by neiowa View Post
    Only time I've turned the siren on is while driving in the annual Indep Day parade. We have not even bothered to blow $ to install one on our wildland truck.

    Rural farm country, everyone is polite as can be about stopping/pulling over for the BRT. Nonissue. A blast on the air horn is enough to wake up the old folks driving 45.
    Polite is a beautiful thing...until you crush that car in the intersection and one of the questions asked during depositions was were your red lights AND siren operating during the response. Golly Mr. Lawyer sir, everyone used to be so polite and get out of our way so we didn't even install one. Can you say KaCHING??? My guess is your fire district lawyer and or insurance carrier doesn't know you are missing the law's required emergency warning devices for a fire truck. I'd bet your insurnace would drop you or go up dramatically if they did.

    Even our DNR Rangers are now running red lights and sirens to calls. It is simply not worth the risk and liability to not use what the law mandates for emergency warning devices while en route to a call.

    Sorry the good old days are gone for ever...protect yourself.

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    yeah what Don is saying is true....


    It's not even an emergency vehicle without the siren...

    Iowa law says it has to have certain lighting and audible devices to be in that category... without it (the siren) you may as well be driving a golf cart!
    JOHN 15:13

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    Marion Volunteer Fire Department

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    By the way the old we don't want to wake up the neighbors line is simply ridiculous.
    My usual 3:00 am reply that is, "I'm awake: Everybody's awake."
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Default Split ruling but what does the law say ?

    In Ontario, Canada the Highway Traffic Act dictates the rules of the road. It also clearly states in part that the driver of a motor vehicle must sound his siren prior to proceeding through a red light ( if safe to do so ). However, our SOP's state that the person in the front passenger seat ( normally an officer ) is responsible for the siren operation.

    On the times that I drive a main line apparatus, I have control of the siren and will take over if I am not satisfied how the passenger is controlling the siren.

    Just my 2 cents Ben

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    Quote Originally Posted by jlcooke3 View Post
    IMHO, if I'm driving the machine then part of my duties are to make sure that the machine and all of its personnel arrive at the scene safely, part of that process is operating the emergency warning system(s). The officer doesn't need to worry about running a siren, he needs to be checking pre-plans, listening to the radio for updated information, and a myriad of other task that doesn't include running a siren.
    Jonathan, when you get a total of 10 yrs + in the fireservice, look back at the way you used to think. I honestly believe you will see this as a changed outlook. Let the officer work the sound.

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    Driver usually runs the Q. Officer handles other sirens and horns.

    Our new engine will have the driver side Q pedal, electronic siren in the horn ring and air horn lanyards. The Q siren will also have a doghouse mounted pushbutton for the officer. This makes everything very accessible to both. Two sets of eyes and ears work together to use the sirens and horns as needed.

    It isnt so much who uses them, moreso about when and how they are used.

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    Our officers run the audibles (siren and horns) the driver drives. Period. We feel the officer needs to also play a role in getting the unit to the scene by clearing intersections on his/her side and being responsible to the drivers actions. More than once I told a newby driver to slow down! All the preplans in the world won't help if you wreck while enroute. Our newer apparatus doesn't have footswitches for the Q in drivers location. The airhorn is into the steering wheel button, and the electronic siren is basically just there for those times the drivers' is alone (not much). On the offciers side is a buton for th e Q and one for the airhorn. Once in a while the driver will use the airhorn with the officer in the truck if they feel it is necessary! But that's it.

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    Our drivers control the noise makers. I'm old school and will turn on the electronic siren but will mainly use the "Q". I personally don't use the air horns much anymore.

    Depending on the officer on the truck with me (very rare) then I may have them operate a siren.

    98% of the time we respond with one person on our trucks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lieutenant387 View Post
    Jonathan, when you get a total of 10 yrs + in the fireservice, look back at the way you used to think. I honestly believe you will see this as a changed outlook. Let the officer work the sound.
    As someone with 25 yrs + in the fire service including several years training driver/operators, I think Jonathan has the right idea already.

    IMNSHO, when the law changes to state that a vehicle passenger and not the vehicle driver is the person legally responsible of the operation of the vehicle, then and only then it'll be time for the officer to control the warning devices.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Default In the courtroom is where it counts

    I don’t have the cases in front of me right now but I know of a few cases over the years where there have been law suits in which the OFFICER was held responsible for the actions the driver of the apparatus. That is one of the reasons FDNY had speedometers installed on the offices side of the dash years ago. All one has to do on any given day is look at the any court and see that what we think common sense or the “law” says gets twisted and revised buy some lawyer. Piece of apparatus is involved in an accident where it was speeding and you think the driver is on the hook. When his lawyer gets the officer on the stand and asks why did you as the one in charge allow that, guess who is on the hook now? If the lawyer can bring blame to the officer now he has the department on the hook who usually has deeper pockets than firefighter who is working his butt off to make ends meet. Common sense and rules of the road are out the window once you enter the courtroom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomwnh View Post
    I don’t have the cases in front of me right now but I know of a few cases over the years where there have been law suits ...
    law suit = civil action i.e. "getting sued"

    In an apparatus accident anyone from the driver right on up the chain of command -- whether they were even in the vehicle or not -- is fair game as far as civil litigation is concerned.

    When I refer to "the person legally responsible of the operation of the vehicle" I'm mean potential criminal responsibilty -- not civil liability. IOW, the driver is the one who potentially gets the tickets, gets arrested, goes to court, goes to jail, etc. -- not the passengers no matter what their rank may be.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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