Pre-Emptive Devices at Intersections. Will That Solve The Problem of Speeding Fire Apparatus?

I just read the lates release on the crash the other day. I am wondering what others think.. by having those pre-emptive devices installed, do they seriously think it will curtail the crashes? Notice I said CRASHES.. not MVA.  MVC.


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We have Opticoms at all intersections and they work great. One thing to be aware of is that the first apparatus approaching the traffic light will trigger the system to a green for them, subsequent apparatus approaching from the left or right will have a red until the first passes through the intersection.

It's policy to approach and proceed through the intersection with the green cautiously, since people do have a tendency to run yellow and reds. The same is true for other apparatus. When we know that another rig is going to be coming to the same intersection we'll advise over the radio of our approach to the intersection.

The above said, the Opticom is still no excuse to speed through an intersection, due regard is still in order. And yes, having Opticoms on traffic signals CAN reduce accidents, by requiring other vehicles to stop for the red light. As I pointed out above however, not all will stop, all the time. Hence, due regard and common sense.

As for making some distinction between an accident and a crash, why would you worry about semantics? And not to put too fine a point on it but there are some that are indeed "accidents." (A car hydoplanes, does a 360 and comes to a stop, with no impact. Is that an MVA or an MVC?) Are you going to actually make that distinction? And does referring to it as one or the other in any way change the outcome or the reality? In my mind there's a lot of other things for me to be concerned with than making a distinction between an accident and a crash.
No. The problem with speeding fire apparatus is the driver and possibly the department culture toward this activity.
We have opticoms as well. There is still no guarantee you have a clear intersection though. These devices do nothing for actual apparatus speed.

As Jack says, if you have multiple stations or agencies responding, you still have issues on who captured the opticom. Better yet, we are the only agency with access to them, therefore, our PD, private EMS, and mutual aid companies could all potentially blow a red light and collide with a unit that has the opticom.

The latest near miss I personally had, was an elderly driver thinking it was OK to make a right turn on red, and it was red because of our opticom.
That's why it is very important to drive with due regard and to proceed with caution.
Until they come up with a device that will predict the behavior of the driving public, we might be stuck in traffic.
It is STILL better than the alternative.
Matthew Powers is absolutely correct. The attitude of fire department administrations today is to turn the other cheek when it comes to wreckless and careless driving. I know of at least one emergency response that was totally unecessary all facts considered, and the responding truck t-boned a car and caused a fatality. Due to what they called 'professional courtesy' the driver of the truck wasn't charged....he should have gone to jail. We need to have strick SOPs regarding apparatus response (POV as well) and just as strict enforcement. Send the message that improper behavior behind the wheel will NOT be tolerated.
I am sure in the case of the spinning car, since it did not collide with anything, it can't be called an MVC. However, it can't be called an accident either, since it was avoidable.. driving too fast for road conditions will be the reasoning they give (they being the insurance co..police etc in the event the spinning car does infact hit something. If it was another car that was driving by, that second driver's case could be called an accident, because the driver really had no control over what the other car was doing before the hit. My only point and reasoning behind the distinction, was that here in Canada at least, the safety people like to preach safety safety safety.. and come up with all kinds of things to justify their end means. Calling an incident where a person has a bunch of drinks and then gets into the car and dumps the car in the ditch down the road.. is a crash simply because it was avoidable, not an accident as many people just naturally call it. As we were taught, changing the mindset (crash = avoidable vs Accident = not), might be a proactive way to reduce injuries.
Many agencies here are now actually getting away from the MVA thing.
Just saying. I know it is a seemingly petty observation, but an accident is something that is unavoidable. Unexpected and unavoidable. A Crash isn't.
As for the pre-emptive device, while I have never seen one in operation, I think it could be useful, but certainly I would not put my entire trust into whether that alone would make the intersection safe enough to go ripping through with the hammer down.
Thanks for that.
Couldn't have said it better.
No the pre-emptive Devices will not solve the problem of speeding fire apparatus. The only thing they do besides switchc the lights from red to green for the apparatus to pass through the intersection is create the problem of allowing the operator of the appartus to speed through said intersection. What will solve the problem is proper SOP/SOG's on safe operation of Fire Apparatus, training and enforcement on those SOP/SOG's. The same goes for wearing seat belts in the apparatus. Over the last several months there have been many fire apparatus involved collisons with outcomes of non-serious injuries to severe or fatal injuries to MOS and Civilians. Of the MOS related injuries/deaths in the those collisions 90% were found to not have been wearing seatbelts. We can't save our citizens lives and property if the apparatus and its crews do not arrive at the scene safely. Follow the simple rules in the V & T law and EVOC/CEVO. Utilize Due regard, use caution and treat every lane as a seperate intersection, make sure the other vehicles on the road see and hear you and give you the right away. Right of way isnt assumed or a given just because we have big shiny red fire engines with lights and sirens dispalyed. We are driving 20+ ton weapons not 1/2-2 ton cars.
The only thing resolving the issues of Vehicles being in a wreck or a near miss is on the shoulders of the Driver and the Officer in the front seat. The Driver. being "Responsible" for the rig and crew and the Fire Officer having the ultimate "Responsibility" of the in the right seat. The Officer has the obligation to enforce the policies and procedures of the department or district.

I too have operated the rigs using the "Pre-emptive Devices". To me the "California Rule" and Murphy's Law lurk in the future. The "California Rule: is as follows:
Green means go
Yellow means GO FASTER
Red means At Least Three More
and we all know Murphy. He is ready to bite you in the rear when you least expect it.

Our Standard of Response is: Drive the Speed Limit when weather, traffic (vehicle and pedestrian), and vision allows. All other times, Slow Down and proceed with Extreme Caution! We also practice the IAFC's Initiative "25 in 5", aka the Seat Belt Contract.

Last is you need to use your own "Common Sense" and practice, not only Due Regard to Safety but also "Self Restraint". You must not only take command of your Rig and / or Crew, but also your on adrenaline. If you don't get there, you don't accomplish the task you signed on for. Instead you cause a greater hardship by creating an response on top of the response you were going to. This is a detriment to your department or district and the resulting grief caused to your brother and sister firefighters are sometimes extremely long lasting.

Drive Safe, Arrive Alive so you can get the job done, and return home safely. You are the best "Premptive Device" out there. You are, after all, the one controling your response and the safety of those around you.
Opticoms (pre-emptive devices) are in my experience, equipment which gives you a false sense of security. An incident in Houston last year where a ladder and engine collided at an intersection and killed a pedestrian illustrates the point of Jack, et al. They only control the light in one direction. That is assuming they are working.

There are no accidents. Something can always be done to prevent an incident. Opticons do not relieve the operator (EO or civilian) from driving with due regard. Of course civilians don't, so it falls on us to be even more vigilant.

My department does not utilize pre-emption devices other that lights and siren. But we are able to get to fires and medical calls safely and quickly because 1. it's not balls to the wall speed, 2. We give other drivers time to see us and react, 3. our operators must meet a rigid criteria of classroom and hands on before being allowed to drive emergency.
I don't in any way believe that pre-emptive devices (opticoms) relieves the driver of any responsibility. However, by having these devices in operation, it does eliminate the apparatus from having to pass through an intersection in which it does NOT have the right of way.

As I pointed out earlier, anyone (including other apparatus) can blow a red light and the driver HAS to be both observant and cautious but given the choice of going through an intersection in which I have the green, or the red, I would prefer the green. Going through a red intersection and hitting another vehicle almost certainly means the apparatus is at fault. At least with a green light an argument can be made both for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle as well as for having run a red light. But it's still in the same hands the steering wheel is in.

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