I see it everyday . . . drivers cutting in front of a fire apparatus, refusing to yield the right-of-way, or just blocking their path and refusing to allow them to pass. All too often, the end result ends up looking something like this . . .


Keep in mind that this accident took place, probably, somewhere in the 1920's or 1930's and things have steadily gone downhill from there. Now-a-days not only are cars well sound-proofed, but drivers are distracted by the radio (or CD player), kids in the backseat, and the cellphone. Since my wife and I live on a major east-west thoroughfare I get to see it everyday . . . drivers that refuse to pull to the right, refuse to clear the intersection, or that gripe because they don't like all of the noise fire service personnel have to deploy enroute to a fire call or an EMS call. (Here's a novel thought, get out of their way and they won't have to make all that noise.)

Of course, in all fairness, I must admit that not all accidents are the result of bad or hostile driving on the part of civilians. Case in point is this video from the UK where an engine literally takes a turn on two wheels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCUTKqXf-wE -- but accidents caused by operator error on the part of an apparatus driver occur with much less frequency than those caused by civilian drivers.

The solution to this problem? Diligence both on the part of civilian drivers and firefighters.

For civilian drivers:

1. Realize that fire truck weighs in at several tons and isn't capable of stopping on a dime.
2. If apparatus is running with lights and siren, they have the right-of-way. Pull over to the right.
3. Be aware of the situation around you.

For firefighters:

1. Realize that fire truck weighs in at several tons and isn't capable of stopping on a dime.
2. Resist the urge to showboat. (Don't end up like the driver in the UK video.)
3. Remember that the driver in the car ahead of you might be distracted -- watch out for them.











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Comment by Walter "Tommy" Little on August 28, 2010 at 8:41am
I know Kevin and I cringe every time I see that video. Thanks for posting it.
Comment by Kevin Hatfield on August 27, 2010 at 9:21pm
This could have been prevented ..... with stopping at a Red Light


Comment by Kevin Hatfield on August 27, 2010 at 9:20pm
How not to drive a Fire Apparatus

Comment by Walter "Tommy" Little on August 27, 2010 at 6:31pm
Kevin you bring up some good points . . . especially about stopping at all red lights and stops signs. I know the Atlanta Fire Department does that too and they have a zero occurrence of intersection accidents. The few I have heard were cases where a civilian vehicle struck an engine or truck on the fire ground.
Comment by Kevin Hatfield on August 27, 2010 at 6:01pm
Yes the public can be somewhat oblivious to the oncoming Fire Apparatus or EMS truck, It is frustrating. I still think most accidents that involve Fire and EMS vehicles can be avoided ... not saying all of them, I know on our Department it is protocol to come to a complete stop at all Red lights and Stop Signs, even if it looks clear, along with other measures we have installed Opticoms on all Apparatus and Lights to accommodate the Red light turning and staying Green in our favor. It is important to remember that we dont have the right of way, we are only requesting it.

Drive safe everyone, remember Everyone Goes Home Alive
Comment by Walter "Tommy" Little on August 9, 2010 at 7:34am
Thanks for the correction Lutan. The reason that I didn't play up the accidents caused by operator error on the part of the apparatus operator is because I didn't want to offend my colleagues OR give that small percentage of civilians who would attack us more ammunition.
Comment by lutan1 on August 9, 2010 at 12:55am
Case in point is this video from the UK where an engine literally takes a turn on two wheels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCUTKqXf-wE

Walter, that's my video, and it's from Queensland, Australia. Just to clarify....


but accidents caused by operator error on the part of an apparatus driver occur with much less frequency than those caused by civilian drivers.
I'm not convinced on this. There's loads of examples where drivers have blown red lights, stop signs, driven way too fast for the conditions and so on.

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