Oh boy. I was at the firehouse with some of the other guys today and we were discussing our tanker and the use of red lights and sirens when responding to the scene. Some of us think its okay, some just say no. I'm not sure which states, but some states have it that any new tanker built cannot have red lights or sirens.

What's your opinion on this?

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I had a discussion along this lines with the former chief of our Rural Fire Department 25 years ago. It was over wether or not we should put new lights on a 20 year old tanker. The Chief with 30 years experience, myself with 6 months. His opinion was that a tanker isnt as important as a pumper. My opinion was the tanker was not only as important, but maybe more so. My argument is this. A pumper (Engine) respondes from the station to the fire and parks! In alot of cases it may only need hazard light and a few safety cones around it. It is now there for the next 2, 3, or even 12 hours. But without a tanker constantly on the road from the station to the fire, then to the water fill area and back again, that pumper is now useless, if there is no on site water sourse. My thinking is that a tanker is every bit of an EMERGENCY apparatus as a pumper and in rural settings needs as many emergency lights and good sirens as any other apparatus! My argument help merrit with the 30 year veterin! We gave that 20 year old tanker new lights and a new siren! We also up graded the pumper's lights while we were at it!

So my final opinion on anyone or state that thinks tankers dont need emergecny lights and sirens, have no idea what they do and how vital they are to rural firefighting!

As for the size and weight of tankers and slowing down, all true, but knowing your trucks and how each one handles in all weather and road conditions is truly the main thing to remember! Drive within all the limites!

Yes they are! 

The point isn't whether a Tender/Tanker is an emergency vehicle or not, the point is at what time during a rural fire is running tenders emergency more a hazard than it needs to be.  I have been at far more rural fires with tenders waiting in line to dump than those where we were waiting for water to arrive.  I have seen 3 or 4 tenders waiting to dump and yet as they leave they are running red lights and sirens to the fill point and then red lights and sirens back to the scene.  WHY?  How would you explain a tender running emergency being involved in an accident and potentially killing civilians when there was no need at all to run emergency? 


James, I have been a rural volunteer firefighter for 37 years so would you care to tell me that I have no idea what a tender does or how vital they are?  Because frankly if that is the best argument you have for ALWAYS running red lights and siren, even with tankers waiting in line, I pray that you never have an accident where a shark of an attorney for the family gets a hold of you.  


YES, Tenders needs lights and siren, but it doesn't mean everytime they turn a wheel they need to be operating. 

I agree Don. It doesn't really matter what the rig has for lights srens, etc,there is a time and place for them. Too often e have seen examples of a tanker waiting in line to dump, then pull out running hot to refill, just to get back in line to dump. At such a point, there is absolutely n reason to be running hot and there is no reason not to run with traffic flow. This mindset that you are an emegency vehile, operating in an emergency capacity only applies for so long. Once there is a waer shuttle operation established, you cease to be an emergency vehicle and are now a utility....no reason to risk running hot just to wait in lie to dump again.

The main purpose of lights and siren use is not to gain a time advantage but to warn other drivers that this vehicle may be travelling at a speed that is different than what is posted......... I think of the lights and siren (when in motion) assisting in warning others of our erratic (justifiably so) driving. We will sometimes drive within that allowable limit over what is posted, try to smooth out the bumps, slow down in the middle of the block, turn around in the middle of the street, or we even stop quickly when we see someone come running toward us.


I don't know if I could disagree anymore with such an assessment. If operating an emergency vehicle in such a manner to justify erratic driving is the contention, then that is wrong and goes against operating with Due Regard. The purpose of lights and sirens is to warn other motorists of an emergency and to "ASK" that they yield the right of way. Operating lights and sirens does not mean laws can be ignored....stop at red lights and ensure drivers yield before proceeding....emergency vehicles MUST stop for a school bus with their flashers on...etc.


Operating with Due Regard means that you are operating safely and the onus of an emergency vehicle operator is to get the rig/crew on scene safely. This means that there is no excuse for erratic driving or behavior, in fact, the bigger challenge is driving defensively to anticipate other motorist's response to you....not the other way around. 

So , what is he difference between an engine responding code 3 and or a tanker doing the same?, as long as the driver is spot on with driving the apparatus and not driving like an idiot. 


If you read the comments, if tankers are lined up waiting to dump, clearly the need for speed may no longer be warrented.  No one has said that a tanker shouldn't be responding hot -initially- to a call, but once a water shuttle has been dialed in, and tankers have to wait to dump then flow of traffic is likely all that's needed for the rest of the shuttle. Running lights and sirens for the sake of lights and sirens is needed, unless the driver needs to feel important.

Also the number one cause of apparatus accidents and related injuries -after POVs- is a tanker rollover.  Tankers don't roll over on their own so there has to be a causative agent at work...the driverperhaps?

I agree. There is no reason for a siren to be running whiling sitting in line to dump. Most of our departments in a tanker shuttle will shut off their lights and some don't. But none will run a siren once on scene.

The topic wasn't about running sirens while sitting in line to dump, it was about the complete lack of need to run red lights and sirens on Tenders when there is no longer an emergent need for water.  If there are tenders waiting in line to dump there is no longer a need to run red lights and siren to the water supply point and then back to the fire scene.

Because Tenders are a leader in Fire Apparatus accidents why would you want to run them emergent when there is no true need to do so?  No one is suggesting that you shouldn't run red lights and siren for the first due Tenders, or continue to run red lights and siren if water is still an issue.  But how do you justify running emergent with Tenders sitting in line waiting to dump?  How do you defend a Tender rolling over, or being involved in an accident with a civilian vehicle, while running red lights and sirens with other Tenders sitting waiting to dump?

This sparked a discussion at the firehouse today and much like here the general agreement was that once the water shuttle has been established and you have tankers waiting in line to be dumped that there is no need for lights or sirens. However one thing that was suggested that depending on where you are waiting to dump at. Ie along side a busy, or even a seldom used road it is good to have the lights going on atleast the last tanker that way if it's night or visibilty isn't perfect people can see your tankers. That had not really been mentioned so I figured I would put it out there.


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