Volunteer in Holts Summit, Missouri gets ticket during POV response. Police & fire differ on meaning of state law.

A dispute in Holts Summit, Missouri where the police and fire departments disagree over whether a firefighter's personal vehicle can be an emergency vehicle. The issue arose when a New Bloomfield Fire Protection District firefighter was ticketed while responding to a fire on Saturday. The police and fire department's have differing interpretations of state statutes on this issue.

Volunteer firefighter Matt Ousley said that he was driving responsibly, but taking the liberties an emergency vehicle is authorized to. He admits he was driving 10 mph over the speed limit and passing cars as they were yielding to him. Ousley said because he was using his blue flashing light and siren, his driving was legal.

The Holts Summit Police Department Assistant Chief Bryan Reid disagrees. He said a volunteer firefighter's personal vehicle, even when equipped with appropriate lights and siren, is not an emergency vehicle. "A first responder vehicle is not considered a full emergency vehicle," says Reid, "By statute it is not exempt."

New Bloomfield Assistant Fire Chief Dean Powell said the statute "says right in it, very specifically, it states different things that they can exceed the law. Similar to a police officer when they are responding. They're personal vehicle at that point becomes an emergency vehicle."

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The Police Department officers needs to be reminded IF something happens to one of the police officers (vehicle accident; shot; stabbed; cut; burned; struck by vehicle; etc. That in all likelihood, it will be ONE of those (or several) volunteer firefighters that will respond to them and possibly help save their lives. It could be by complete faith the VERY same firefighter you just ticketed..... The police officers need to find something else to do.   

While Section 304-022 of Revised Statutes of Missouri do not include a POV in the list of Emergency Vehicles, Section 307-175 Clearly States "Motor vehicles and equipment which are operated by any member of an organized fire department, ambulance association, or rescue squad, whether paid or volunteer, may be operated on streets and highways in this state as an emergency vehicle under the provisions of section 304.022 while responding to a fire call or ambulance call or at the scene of a fire call or ambulance call and while using or sounding a warning siren and using or displaying thereon fixed, flashing or rotating blue lights, but sirens and blue lights shall be used only in bona fide emergencies.".

The questions I would have to ask are : 1. Did the FF have a Valid Missouri Blue Light Permit ? 2. Was the FF responding to a "Bonified Emergency" ? 3. What are the Dept SOGs for POVs. 4.Are there deeper Issues between these to Agencies ?

I disagree. BOTH Agencies need to train together and understand the SOGs of the other organizations that they work with on a daily basis. Just as we train with our Mutual Aid Companies we should be training with LE and Medics. It is sometimes difficult to ask someone to respect your position when they don't understand what it is.

The first thing that needs to be done is to go to the county attorney and get his opinion and see what he has to say. If he is unsure then go to court and let the traffic judge decide. Once the judge rules on it then there will not be an issue after that, which ever way it goes. If the judge rules in favor of the LE then that is what the FD will have to live by, however, if the judge rules in favor of the FD then that is what the LE will have to live by.

Do you think that the ones who drive like an idiot with a light, will stop driving like an idiot without ??? 

That is the point !!! And I agree if they drive like an idiot without out one, they shouldnt have one either.  Just like anything else...a few bad apples spoil the whole basket. I believe the people need to take a defensive driving class, and the Chief and Sheriff should give the permission. And not just for POV operation, but to drive any apparatus as well with lights and siren. I do know what you are saying....some people think because they have a light and siren...that they own the road and it gives them permission to drive like an idiot. Nothing further from the truth.

It sounds like the law needs to be looked at in this case to see what it says. I'm in Washington and volunteers here are allowed to have a green light in their POV's but they do not make the personal vehicle an emergency vehicle. Other drivers are not required to yeild or move out of the way of the volunteer while they are in response mode, but it is more for letting them know that a volunteer is responding to an emergency and if they want they can clear the way (courtesy light). I only know of a handful of people in my county that currently have them and a few others that used to carry the green light as well, though they really don't have to use them often.

Jolly, I think I have heard some states that have tried to or have successfully banned the use of lights for volunteers but I can't remember where I saw that at th emoment. Here we are only allowed to use green colored lights. Any other color is not allowed for POV response.

Understood Jolly, you are right as well........many will drive like fools no matter what. I dont know what really went on with the case at hand, nor do I know there local laws or FD policies. But there will always be an issue with how people drive...whether its running lights and sirens, or just going to the store !!!

note a volunteer firefighter does not have the authority to drive like an idiot in there personal vehicle if the driver was breaking a law yes he should get a ticket. If you are a volunteer your personal vehicle is not a part of the department! that is the trouble with some people they think that when toned out they can break the law! One thing that you have to realize there are laws you have to follow. Its amazing that there are not more accidents. Watch some of the responding units that are on You tube there are to many high speed throttle jockies that think they have the right of way they need to have control of the vehicle at all times just because you have lights and siren blaring does not mean that the intersection will be open on red lights you must be able to stop no matter what the only way to do it is SAFTEY COUNTS you wont save any lives causing an accident responding to an emergency!! 

This is an issue that is seen in several locations across the nation.  It will have to be settled by the judiciary making a ruling on the law.  Usually you see it when a city annexes areas for growth based on taxable resources and leave pockets of county within the city.  The city police being use to a completely paid department doesn’t understand the role of volunteers to respond to these areas.  Another event is when there is a pissing match between law enforcement and the fire department.  I have had some of my people pulled over on route to a call.  We resolved this matter by meating with the Chief of Police and representatives of the City Council.  It might be that the state will have to rule on this event.

A survey shows that lights and sirens on emergency vehicles dosen't save but a few minutes.  Do you think based on this sudy that lights and sirens should be taken off of all emergency vehicles?  I have seen paid fire units being operated with lights and sirens in a very wreckless manor.  This is the justification for not allowing them to use lights and sirens to respond right?  Or do you think that personal accountability of each paid firefighter should be the order of the day?  Before you think I am pounding on you I took the light and siren off of my POV also.  When I respond I just drive and get there.  I think it is going to depend on the location and situation of the area.  If we are in a rural area with long response distances and it involves a medical response time is of the essence.  The state police will not pull you over if you are showing a red light and not exceeding the speed limit by more than ten mph.  They will pull you over if you don't have a red light.  Now they will follow you and make sure you are legit.  If it is a small area with regular traffic patterns it may not be so much the case.  I thnk it should be based on the local area and that personal accountability of all users should be enforced.

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