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  1. #1
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    Default "The rules say 10 miles over the posted speed limit"

    This is from the thread on the LODD Of Shreveport FF Eric Speed, but its not about him. Its about the stupid rules and SOP's some of you have in your FD's.

    Why, why, why would any sane FD administrator put the above into their rules and regs? Do you not understand the door that this opens to liability? Do you also have rules that you only have to use the turn signal sometimes? You can drive after no more than 2 beers? You can only pass on the right once in a while?

    Sometimes I am utterly amazed by what comes out of people's mouths.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    This is from the thread on the LODD Of Shreveport FF Eric Speed, but its not about him. Its about the stupid rules and SOP's some of you have in your FD's.

    Why, why, why would any sane FD administrator put the above into their rules and regs? Do you not understand the door that this opens to liability? Do you also have rules that you only have to use the turn signal sometimes? You can drive after no more than 2 beers? You can only pass on the right once in a while?

    Sometimes I am utterly amazed by what comes out of people's mouths.
    Can you elaborate a little George? Does the rule say, "At no time shall any apparatus ever exceed 10 MPH over the posted Speed limit"? As I don't see an issue with this.

    Edit: Just saw the quote in the other thread and I agree the statement sounds foolish but it likely isn't their SOP verbatim. But as I noted above the actual wording could be quite decent.
    Last edited by RFDACM02; 03-29-2008 at 08:22 AM.

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    If I'm following George's logic ...

    If your particular State's law for operating emergency vehicles allows for "10mph over the speed limit" then it MAY be appropriate to have that as your department's SOP/SOG. If it isn't the law, you wouldn't want your SOP to say that, otherwise you're opening yourself up for liability. Is that kind of where you were going with that thought, George? Or that you shouldn't be "speeding" to a call period?
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    The more I think about it, the more I may agree with George that why put anything in writing? You have laws that allow certain discretions with "Due Regard" but an SOP allowing/advocating or otherwise noting speed in excess of the posted limit may be a liability. This maybe a case where less written rules are better? Just an SOP stating that personnel must always drive with Due Regard and obey the laws of the State (this would include allowances granted to emergency vehicles).

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    Lawyers will create field days out of anything.

    That being said, I think that if a state law ONLY states that a driver must maintain a speed at or below that which conditions allow for the safety and due regard for the public safety (regardless how it is worded) then it is not unreasonable for a department to further limit to "[the statement above], provided that an apparatus does not exceed XX miles per hour over the published speed limit."

    It places more responsibility on the apparatus operator and removes some "gross negligence" from the department. Otherwise the ONLY person that could testify as to the proper maximum speed that ensures the "safety and due regard" is the operator himself, and EVERYTHING rests on the unqualified opinion of jury members.

    If the state law is specific then redundancy is not necessary but proper training must always include knowledge of the law in addition to knowledge of the policy.


    Of course, that's just my two pence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    The more I think about it, the more I may agree with George that why put anything in writing? You have laws that allow certain discretions with "Due Regard" but an SOP allowing/advocating or otherwise noting speed in excess of the posted limit may be a liability. This maybe a case where less written rules are better? Just an SOP stating that personnel must always drive with Due Regard and obey the laws of the State (this would include allowances granted to emergency vehicles).
    +1, or +2.
    Due regard and/or XX over statements may open you up to liability.
    More so if the driver and apparatus occupants are at near panic mode while en-route.

    I think mention of 10 over screws up some drivers judgement.
    But, do they care in the first place?
    Rule/SOP or no rule/SOP, some will drive unsafe regardless.

    You can have detailed or non-detailed rules. But if the higher-up officers have a disregard for common sense driving that attitude flows downhill.

    Dept's need to hammer into the heads of drivers that an apparatus, especially a tanker/tender, is already below performance limits of a normal vehicle.
    Just because the lights and sirens are on doesn't make your apparatus gain new magic handling and braking powers.

    Ever hear over the radio the phrase "Step it up!!!" being barked to other units or those trailing behind? I've heard it, and been on the receiving end.
    Physics determine how the truck accelerates, handles and brakes.

    Apologies for any thread drift. George's topic brings up some other closely related issues.

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    I've never supported departing from state law in department response guidelines.

    "Driving shall conform with --your state here-- state law at all times."

    Pretty simple.
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    Sheri's right. But dadman is the only one who "gets it".

    The speed at which fire apparatus is driven should have nothing to do with a posted speed limit that was developed for automobiles. The speed at which it is driven should be based on the age/rating/use/condition of the vehicle and the age/experience/maturity of the operator. There is no way that an 18 yoa kid with one year driving experience, who happens to pass a test, should be operating a tanker on any road, no less 10 MPH over the speed limit.

    By writing rules and regs that gives operators the green light to use excessive speed, you might as well just open the checkbook and ask how many zeroes tp put on the check if there is a collision.
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    SOP / SOG are all well and good, but common sense is as important. This afternoon my first responder unit was on a fatal MVA. The rescue unit was on scene, no danger of fire. We were there for more than a half hour when I hear sirens. It's the command unit coming lights ans sirens well over the speed limit. Why? Not my fire dept so I felt I didn't have the right to question their chief about his actions.
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    I agree, some of the rules and regulations that some departments put into their SOP's/SOG's/etc. are ridiculous and shouldn't be used in conjunction with any fire department anywhere. Alcohol has nothing to do with the fire service; breaking traffic safety laws has nothing to do with the fire service; speeding is against the law, no matter who you are; yes, we are volunteers and/or career emergency personnel, but we are not higher than anyone else in this world and we should set that example first by putting what does involve the fire service in our rules and regulations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShuswapFireF View Post
    SOP / SOG are all well and good, but common sense is as important. This afternoon my first responder unit was on a fatal MVA. The rescue unit was on scene, no danger of fire. We were there for more than a half hour when I hear sirens. It's the command unit coming lights ans sirens well over the speed limit. Why? Not my fire dept so I felt I didn't have the right to question their chief about his actions.
    Scene safety is the responsibility of every single member on the scene. Every single member has the obligation to point out blatant safety hazards.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    By writing rules and regs that gives operators the green light to use excessive speed, you might as well just open the checkbook and ask how many zeroes tp put on the check if there is a collision.
    I don't know if perhaps this is a doomsday view of how the SOP/SOG is written. I would argue that probably half of the departments out there that have driving SOP's have wording similar to what you posted. In fact, both my career department and volunteer department do limit members to 10MPH above the posted speed limit.

    I work for a busy career department, we'll do 50,000 runs this year. With that kind of call volume, we do have units involved in collisions several times a year. Generally, they the citizen is always at fault. I'm not saying that to make us look better, it's just a fact. In fact, only once in the last 30 years has a member been sued by a civilian in court as the result of a collision. The matter was settled out-of-court, but speed wasn't a factor in the event.

    As you're well aware, an attorney will find every loop hole there is when a suit arises. Could they not also argue that if the vehicle was exceeding the speed limit during an emergent response, but the SOP didn't specifically allow it although the state code did, that the driver is equally liable? It seems to be a matter of semantics to me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    I don't know if perhaps this is a doomsday view of how the SOP/SOG is written. I would argue that probably half of the departments out there that have driving SOP's have wording similar to what you posted. In fact, both my career department and volunteer department do limit members to 10MPH above the posted speed limit.

    I work for a busy career department, we'll do 50,000 runs this year. With that kind of call volume, we do have units involved in collisions several times a year. Generally, they the citizen is always at fault. I'm not saying that to make us look better, it's just a fact. In fact, only once in the last 30 years has a member been sued by a civilian in court as the result of a collision. The matter was settled out-of-court, but speed wasn't a factor in the event.

    As you're well aware, an attorney will find every loop hole there is when a suit arises. Could they not also argue that if the vehicle was exceeding the speed limit during an emergent response, but the SOP didn't specifically allow it although the state code did, that the driver is equally liable? It seems to be a matter of semantics to me.
    If the vehicle is exceeding the speed limit during a response, it is not semantics. It is speeding. I would absolutely agree that the driver is also liable.

    But I think this post misses the entire point of what I am saying.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    But I think this post misses the entire point of what I am saying.
    Help me out then ... I admit that the original post I didn't follow at all, but thought I'd picked up on your points with the subsequent posts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    Help me out then ... I admit that the original post I didn't follow at all, but thought I'd picked up on your points with the subsequent posts.
    I have made these points for years.

    1. Most (not all) FD drivers drive their respective apparatus relatively infrequently.
    2. It takes a tremendous amount of skill to drive a piece of apparatus that is in the neighborhood of 15-18 tons.
    3. Adding an extra 4000 - 10000 lbs. of a shifting dynamic load makes the vehicle even more dangerous.
    4. Most (not all) FD operator training programs are woefully inadequate.
    5. Add the adrenaline and stress of an emergency response and the danger increases. Many FF believe that lights and sirens make you a better driver.
    6. Posted speed limits are designed primarily for stable automobiles.
    7. When your FD rules and regs allows (tacitly encourages) a driver to exceed a posted speed limit, the danger increases exponentially.
    8. This problem is so much bigger than the SOP's.
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    George, thanks for the clarification, and I do understand your concerns about the "big picture" versus simply being an issue with the SOP's.

    When I re-wrote the driving SOP's for our VFD last year, I was blasted for making the process so much more stringent. What's nice to see now is the improvement of the quality of the drivers we have, simply based on the didactic skills they must master during their driver's training status.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    George, thanks for the clarification, and I do understand your concerns about the "big picture" versus simply being an issue with the SOP's.

    When I re-wrote the driving SOP's for our VFD last year, I was blasted for making the process so much more stringent. What's nice to see now is the improvement of the quality of the drivers we have, simply based on the didactic skills they must master during their driver's training status.
    Too many FD's today have a driver training program that deals with taking a spin around the parking lot and knowing how to put the apparatus into pump gear. Glad to hear that you guys have stepped up the game.
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    George ..

    I agree with all your points, however there are those in here who will yell and scream that even 10 MPH over the speed limit is too slow and a bunch of crap when we need to get there now, because of some over-inflated ego trip about "seconds count".

    Leaving it up to discression of the driver simply makes it more likely that cocky under-trained drivers will use thier discression to exceed the speed limit by far more than 10 MPH.

    I fully support emergency vehicles responding to never, under any circumstances, regardless or operator experience or road conditions, exceeding the posted speed limits. In fact, as you know, there are very few calls where, if it was my choice, I would even have the apparatus respond with lights and sirens.

    I would also go as far an say that high-risk vehicles, such as tankers should respond 5 MPH under the posted speed limit at all times.

    The fact is most fireman need a leash. Many need a second leash because we simply, as a collective group, do not know how toi protect ourselves, which is the bottom line. Us. Not the public. Not thier property. Us.

    How about a very simple SOP - Apparatus will at no time during non-emergency or emergency driving exceed the posted speed limit.

    And then we can start talking the other major apparatus response problem ... intersection arrogance.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 03-30-2008 at 09:18 AM.

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    While I am relatively new, I am 'checked out' to drive all of the apparatus (we don't have a quint or aerial of any kind). With that comes a lot of responsibilty.

    While I agree with most all of George's points, I would temper things just a bit. The fact is, not all of our trucks are created equal. What is safe and reasonable in our in-house medical unit (F-350 with utility body, not overwieght) is quite different than our 3000gal elliptical tanker. In both cases, the overriding concern should be 'due regard to public safety', not explict speed limits. I have no problem running 65mph on the dual lane state highway (55mph limit) in the medical truck. (Its almost the same truck as my POV which I drive like that). I wouldn't drive the tanker that fast, even on the best road due to the live load of the water.

    I really think it boils down to maturity and judgement. As a volunteer, I don't drive 10-20+ ton trucks often. I lack the expierence to know the limits and need to drive like it. What consitutes 'Due regard' is varied and we need to realize it.

    The one statement that has stuck with me is this: "To do anything, we have to get there safely first"

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    I have made these points for years.

    1. Most (not all) FD drivers drive their respective apparatus relatively infrequently.
    2. It takes a tremendous amount of skill to drive a piece of apparatus that is in the neighborhood of 15-18 tons.
    3. Adding an extra 4000 - 10000 lbs. of a shifting dynamic load makes the vehicle even more dangerous.
    4. Most (not all) FD operator training programs are woefully inadequate.
    5. Add the adrenaline and stress of an emergency response and the danger increases. Many FF believe that lights and sirens make you a better driver.
    6. Posted speed limits are designed primarily for stable automobiles.
    7. When your FD rules and regs allows (tacitly encourages) a driver to exceed a posted speed limit, the danger increases exponentially.
    8. This problem is so much bigger than the SOP's.
    Nothing to disagree with here, other than a properly written the SOP could be limiting the apparatus operator's speed to 10 MPH over, when a State's law may not put any restriction other than "Due Regard". Due Regard will be the noose around the neck as if you hit someone, 12 people probably will agree that you weren't traveling with "Due Regard". But ask 12 people to tell you what they think "Due Regard" is without an accident to cite as an example? 12 different answers.

    Our State statutes specifically allow an emergency vehicle to travel "in excess of the posted speed limit" when using due regard for the safety of the public. An SOP stating operators may not exceed 10 MPH over he limit would be stricter in this case. We also, follow the full VFIS apparatus operators driving program annually, which is actually a huge PIA (alot of time involved) but done anyway. We also have had Mike Wilbur here to doing driver training twice in 4 years and plan to make it happen every 3 years going forward.

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