Phoenix Fire Officials Want Preemption Devices

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PHOENIX --

Firefighters in Phoenix said they want preemption devices that change street lights for oncoming emergency vehicles mounted on light signals throughout the city.

Todd Harms is an assistant chief with the Phoenix Fire Department.

"What that light does is recognize a fire truck and it turns it green for us and red for everyone else. So, No. 1, it makes it safe, and No. 2, you don't have to stop," said Harms.

He said the devices are great tools, but they are also expensive.

"The challenge is the thousands of lights in the city of Phoenix," said Harms.

Harms said the devices have been installed on some traffic lights, but that is not the case along the valley's freeways, including the junction of Interstate 17 and Dunlap Avenue.

That intersection was the scene of an 11-car crash Monday that injured 10 people -- including Phoenix fire Capt. Crystal Rezzonico -- after a sedan crashed into the side of fire truck en route to an emergency call.

Fire officials told CBS 5 News that it comes down to money.

The city is installing the technology on new stoplights, but only two older stoplights per fire station have been retrofitted with the light-changing equipment, CBS 5 News reported.

CBS 5 News has learned that some valley cities have equipped every stop light with pre-emption devices. But those cities have far fewer stop lights than Phoenix.

The cause of Monday's wreck is still being investigated. Officials said they don't know if a preemption device would have prevented the crash.

The family of the injured fire captain said her prognosis is good.

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