Firefighters in Queens Won’t Rush to All Calls

A million times a year, fire trucks are driven into the streets of New York City, usually at breakneck speeds with lights and sirens blaring. The rush is often critical: Firefighters converge on fires, douse the flames and save lives. The same response applies in less serious situations — calls that are not life-threatening, which are expected to reach around 230,000 this year after steadily rising from 41,054 in 1969. But with 35-ton rigs barreling through red lights and forcing traffic off the roads or through busy intersections, accidents occur, sometimes with deadly consequences. Nearly 700 times last year, the city’s fire trucks collided with other vehicles and, occasionally, with one another. Now, for the first time, the Fire Department is re-engineering its approach: Its plan, set to begin on Monday as a three-month pilot program in Queens, is meant to slow firefighters’ responses to certain calls by having them turn off their lights and sirens and follow the usual traffic rules.

(Read the entire New York Times story...)


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What is to forget? It still doesn't mean that every vehicle that responds needs to run lights and siren (Code 1 here). We send the first two vehicles out Code 1 to those calls or any other emergency response call. All others run under road law conditions Further information received over the radio can have all vehicles upgrade. The difference in full response arrival time will not change that much, and it is far safer when you take into account the civilians that freak at the sound of a siren, and the number of drivers who suffer from 'sirenitis', the ones who allow the adrenalin to control them when they have their siren running.

I should also add the the vehicle OiC can call for an upgrade if road/traffic conditions warrant it.
My area from the farthest North and South fire stations was over three-hours driving time. This includes both rural, suburban and metropolitan districts that I have worked in for the past 38 years, or at least did until retiring this year... Anyway, having worked as both a paramedic for privates, as well as my gig with the fire service, I can say unquestionably that going 65mph in a "more rural area" means that you great visibility for the most part compared to all sorts of surprises.

The key factor is people. More people means statistically, you have a higher chance of not just running into someone but that someone again statistically has a pretty good chance of being an idiot that does incredibly irrational unpredictable things. Rural areas have less people... so... there is less chances for mva's in my opinion. The only time this changes is during inclement weather when all bets are off due the unpredictability of the weather.
I totally concur with the points you made in your post. With that said, running code 3 on a congested freeway usually causes more problems than just slithering through traffic. Same applies for crowded streets and intersections where going slow is just a way of life.
The Q hits something like 100db! A lot of them have a shroud over them to direct the noise forward, away from the crew cab. The noise level in the cab was getting too high for OSHA requirements! Quite a few cities have gotten rid of them because they are so loud. They definitely are good at waking up the neighbours!

FYI there are usually horn and Q pedals on both sides of the cab, so the driver and officer can both reach them.
We cover a mostly rural district and are contracted by the city as well. We tend on some calls to just run lights and no sirens, some calls if just need extra equip our Cheif tells us to run non code. For if they have the fire out or on an mva have the occupant out and just need an extra to help make the mop up go faster. I my self do try and slow down even at intersections, to make sure its clear or people have seen us and stoped. Running through lights and stop signs with no due respect is nonsence, for anymore even with all the fancys on our rigs, people still dont see us, or pull over. I operate most of the time, our two tenders one is 4,000 gals and the other is over 2,000 gals and both dont have jakes so stoping takes longer. I do even have my CDL A and drive tractor/trailer for a liveing. You have to be more alert and aware then the people driving around you, besides your bigger and some with as small as our new cars are may not even see your lights. We all get excited and our adrenalin is pumpen when the call goes out but to speed and drive like heck is foolish. I dont agree with runnen to a call with out at least lights on, but I can see where NYC is comeing from. I feel that we all have to just be more aware of our situation and whats around us while going to a call, and adjust to what is ahead. We all need to stress SAFETY SAFTEY SAFTEY SAFETY!!!!!! and just slow down a bit you dont do anygood if you dont get there at all.
We use judgement when we pull out of the hall here.We usually run lights and sirens til we get through town just so people know we are coming but when we get out of town we shut the sirens off for minor things.we never blow stop signs or red lights we will come to and make a slow approach with air horns and sirens going and if it is major we creep thru but don't just blow them.Stop signs same thing if you have a clear line of site we will do a rolling stop but again never blowing them that is just crazy and asking for trouble.Admitedly there is a difference between city and rural and driving 15-20 MPH can be as dangerous as driving 75 MPH in the rurals.All our trucks are governed at 90 KPH (55 MPH) which takes away any of the adrenilin that makes you want to drive a rocket ship.You also have to take into account what apparatus you are behind the wheel of,pumper or ladder or tanker carrying 2000 gallons of water with you they all have their own set of capabilities when in motion so getting out there and getting used to how they drive is the best way in my mind and again use common sense is even better than practice.

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