This is going to be more toward the volunteer sector but you guy from the city are welcome to respond as well i now your answers will all be different.

You get toned out for a vehicle fire. The vehicle is in the drive way and no one inside and no exposure's. Lets say address is 10 miles from your station. Do you respond on a RED lights and sirens or do you respond on a White with out lights and siren. Then way do you respond this way?

Don't be afraid to answer here. This is not a who's right or wrong type of forum here. You will see were i'm going with this in a few days. If we get some responses up here. 

All my remarks later will be based on New York State Emergence vehicle law. So they may not reflect your proto calls so don't get up set about any remarks i may make. Thanks in advance for your participation. 

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I agree with Don. We can't rely solely upon what the caller states or what dispatch is giving us, especially when fire is involved. Sure a fully involved car fire won't be worth anything, but if it is still burning, it is a hazard to be contended with, keep responding lights and sirens.


I can't count the number of times the dispatch reason we were sent for was different when actually arriving on scene. In many cases we ran lights and sirens for something that would have been a non-emergency reponse. We have run in heavy traffic, bad weather, day, night, etc. The issue boils down to responding with DUE REGARD.


There are just way too many variables, especially with fire involved, that there is NO reason the first due engine should not be going lights and sirens.

Negative, Derek. We respond emergent on all reports of fires. You never know what you'll find.

Case in point: We responded recently to a dog house on fire after the caller stated he had the fire out. We got off the engine without air packs only to find out the fire had extended to the porch and the attic on the $300,000 home. Yikes!

We still run hot: Lights and siren, even on the side of the road. The rubber necker syndrome comes into play here. Our last vehicle fire was a truck pulling a travel trailer with several propane cylinders and a 150 gallon fuel tank of gasoline in the back of the truck. Upon arrival both truck and trailer where fully involved with several people standing way too close and traffic driving dangerously close to the involved vehicle. I promptly closed the road until the scene was safe to pass by.And on the dispatch debate, I never rely on info transmitted. I trust MY EYES  only.

If given out as a fire call we will respond with red lights and siren's. You may never know what may be happening at the call until you get there.

John, You got it DUE REGARD. We have been in a little scuffle around the state and county on this very issue. I agree anytime there is fire any place Lights and Sirens. There is a push going on to start looking at how we respond to different calls. This is mostly aimed at the volunteer side of things. We have some in the state that think responding to a car fire is not a true emergence; therefore no lights or siren should be used. The 2 minutes you save getting to the scene is not changing the out come any. The car is still toast.

This has come about after a couple of court case's were the operator of the rig was hung out to dry. 

Like i said i'm basing this on NYS law; not sure what your state laws are. Basically if you are responding to a car fire or grass fire and you run over grandma and grandpa public that drove out in front of you because they forgot their hearing aids and glasses before they left the party. You better be able to prove that a life was in danger. You were responding with due regard (The way a  normal thinking person would under the same circumstances.) This is were they have nailed the operator in two different case's.

So should we be looking at the way we respond to different calls? Or a better job training our drivers?. What do you think?

The fact of the matter is an MPO, Chauffeur apparatus operator, or driver is responsible for their actions behind the wheel.  Every time I get behind the wheel, whether responding emergency or non-emergent I drive with Due Regard.  I don't trust any other driver out there to do the right thing.  I slow down, or stop completely, at intersections if I am not sure of my control of the intersection.  I am always watching driveways and sidestreets for people that may pull out in front of me.  Red lights and siren guarantee nothing, they ask for permission to proceed and for people to clear a path, but there is no guarantee they will.

Frankly, how do I know that Uncle Bob isn't sitting in the front seat of that car on fire, or junior isn't in the car seat in the back.  Or that the grass fire isn't running towards a subdivision, or a school, or a nursing home.  It is all well and good to sit in judgement AFTER the fact of a decision made about how to respond.

We find ourselves in the unadmirable position of should we respond emergency and hope that nothing catastrophic is going on, or respond non-emergency and get caught with our pants down because Unce Bob WAS in that car and burned to death because we lolly gagged in our response.

Drive like everyone is out to get you, not like you have a free pass, and odds are you may make it your whole career without a mishap.



So should we be looking at the way we respond to different calls? Or a better job training our drivers?. What do you think?


I again agree with much of what Don says, but to answer the question, I would go with a better job training our drivers.


Looking at changing a response is an ineffective solution because there are just way too many variables that such a knee jerk reactive policy can't contend for. Sooner or later such policies will only bite you in the arse.


Training drivers is easier to do, because there are different ways to address this. Number one is by having a department standard and ensure all the leadership as well as body understands this. In another thread there was talk about drivers on their phones while easy fix for any dept. There is absolutely no reason any driver should be on the phone while driving.


There is the aspect of getting new drivers out to drive, even if it means the regular guys have to ride in the back for some time. Get out, get to know the feel of the rigs, do driving drills, etc. I would say that depts should have an EVOC (emergency vehicle operator course) as a requirement for anyone looking to drive and they can't drive until they have a cert in hand.


Finally, as Don basically states, drive as though everyone is out to get you. There is no reason not to drive slower for conditions, ensure cross traffic is actually stopped before going through an intersection, allow people to move over, and so forth.



The way I look at it.....You are called to an emergency, you are no good to anyone if you don't arrive there safely. 

We would run emergency traffic-you don't always know if there are occupants in the vehicle or surrounding area.  We do not take all dispatch information as law.  Sometimes the caller isn't telling the whole story.  Exposures are a key factor in this situation.  A exposure to a citizen is much different than what we know as one.  It doesn't take much to extend and involve a structure or another vehicle. We run emergency until a fire dept. unit ( perferably one of our officers ) determines that we can continue normal traffic.  This is just our way of doing things ( protocal ).  Not to say this is all inclusive and the only way to do things.  Good luck.


Doesn't sound like good practices, Never take a homeowners word for anything! They could be on to something then it becomes a fire marshal and police matter.

Hey...I resent that moose comment...I have managed to control my sleepwalking a little better you

Always run lights and sirens until either an officer or the first due unit arrives on scene and confirms what you actually have.

I agree with the comment made earlier in regards to the vehicle being on a grade, and the brake lines burn through...that could get messy in a real hurry... "Engine 1, respond to a car fire at 23 wait now its 21 maple, oh oh, now its wait 18 maple........Engine 1 you should be able to see the car fire any moment..."

Caller information is never reliable, even when its received by a trained, competent dispatcher.  I dont know haw many times we have received a call for a "Fully Involved" house fire only to get on scene with 12 trucks and 50 firefighters to find a small burn barrel in the back yard and the homeowner having a massive coranary looking at all the resources pulling into his yard.

Yes the car is a loss ANY time it has ANY fire, but that doesnt mean we dont still have to protect people from getting hurt from all of the nasty Methyl Ethyl Badshit that goes into cars today, including Hybrid battery systems, Nitrous, alternative fuels, and any other thing the weekend warrior can fabricate and stick in his/her trunk. 

And I still resent the comment about the moose getting hit...:)


We run lights and siren ( level 1) to every call.  Only changes when an officer or first unit arrives on scene. Nobody else has the authority to reduce our response level.  When I was Chief, I would always get into arguments with the PD, because they would radio in and try to either slow us down or say we were not needed.  That is NOT their responsibility.  You can never take anyone elses word.

  Driver educationand training is pretty much the key. They need to be calm and use common sense when responding to calls.

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