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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It is based on the state.  In Louisiana the fire chief can issue a certificate that makes a pov an emergency vehicle.  This is in the RS.  Each state has the right to govern itself.  Thus the laws are varried from state to state.  You are correct about driving like and idiot.  The RS states that you must show due regard to public safety.  It defeats our purpose when will kill and mame people while responding to help.

Each state is different and it is clearly defined within the law. Fire Chief should consult their town council (lawyer) Most firefighters either choose to ignore or do not know the laws exist.

 

My state for example, the fire chief has the authority to issue a lights/siren card to a volunteer firefighter or EMT for which gives you permission to place lights and siren on your POV. The State RSA  (law) states when you are operating your POV with lights and sirens activated you are to obey the rules of the roadway at all times. No speeding, must stop at lights and stop signs, and no illegally passing. The only benefit of operating lights and sirens is the ability to ask fellow patrons of the roadway permission of them to pull over and allow you to pass. There is no law that states a person must yield to a person running POV lights and sirens. The other thing that many do not understand about my state, is the card issued is only good in the town for which the fire chief has authority. So if you are three towns out when the tone drops, you can be stopped and ticketed for running lights and sirens outside of your jurisdiction.

 

 

 

 

All I could say is on our derpartment we are not suppose to go over the speed limit even with lights and sirens My chief was very serious about it

I checked on the NIOSH web page http://www2a.cdc.gov/NIOSH-fire-fighter-face/state.asp?state=ALL&am... for some figures. From 2000 to present I came across 50 incidents involving fatalities and injuries involving vehicle crashes. Of the fatalities 48 were in apparatus and 5 in POV and of the injuries 25 apparatus and 1 POV.

You stated, " I hear about and see more bad situations involving the use of emergency lights on POVs than actual good that they are supposed to do. I understand that many accident related LODDs are involved with fire and EMS apparatus however there is no argument that many volunteer emergency personnel are seriously injured or killed as the result of an accident while responding in their personal vehicle." Where does your data come from?

You also stated, "With the responsible users aside, there are many irresponsible vol. firefighters who abuse the use of emergency lights on their POV and hurt or kill others as well as themselves." Again, where does your data come from? I wil only speak for KY here, before an individual can run lights and siren on a POV they must have written permisssion from the chief of the department that they are on. If they are driving irresponsibly then the chief can revoke that permission.

You ended with, "... I think that lights used on POVs everywhere is a great hazard and should be no more. It's all about life safety and the safety of others." If you trully feel that, as you put it, It's all about life safety and the safety of others, then there should not be any lights and sirens on any vehicle, including apparatus because the majority of fatalities and injuries occur with appaaratus.

  I told myself I wasn't going to respond to the posts but I can't hold it in any longer so here it goes.

  COMMON SENSE (as with everything else) needs to be used with lights/sirens whether their on a POV or a fire apparatus.  I've been on the dept. for 15 years in what could be considered a rural area, do I always run my lights for a call, no but if the call warrants it I'll turn them on and all my light is asking for is consideration by the other drivers to yield to me whether it's pulling to the side or letting me go first at a stop sign AFTER I'VE COME TO A STOP, it doesn't always happened that they'll yield to me.  Do the lights save me any time?, I can't say yes or no for sure but if you're following 3 cars that are doing 45mph (speed limit is 55mph) and they yield to me and will let me pass sure it'll save some time or how about you get behind a tractor pulling a wagon and he sees you coming they'll pull over and give you a clear path to pass.  Sometimes I've been first at a scene 5-10 minutes before anyone else and then I can assess the incident, give scene sizeup, or call for more resources if needed, so yes sometimes lights do help.

  I'm chief of the dept. now and have changed a few things on how apparatus respond along with pov driving.  Does a carbon monoxide call with no one feeling ill or a neighbor who's pissed off the neighboring homeowner is burning trash and calls in a trash fire warrant a flow blown code 3 response, NO.  This is where common sense comes into play.  I agree with the others that a few bad apples can spoil the privelege of running lights on your pov for the ones that are responsible but it falls on the bad apples chiefs to take care of them.

  Whether one of my firefighters drives bad in his pov or a fire apparatus I deal with it and the problem is corrected.  I always tell them that when responding in an emergency mode they must always remain in control of the apparatus or pov and respond in a responsible manner that conditions warrant.

  Just my 2 cents.      

After reading all of the post and the orignal story the point has been skewed here. From the story the reason for the individual being ticketed was for running code 3 in his POV and LEO saying that the POV did not quailify as an emergency vehicle. The LEO did not ticket him for careless driving. As I posted earlier he should go to the county attorney and get his opinion or better yet take it to court and let the judge rule on the issue. Once the judge rules then that is what the FD and LE will have to abide by no matter whose favor it is in.

As far as the NIOSH reports they only investigate when a fatality occures. From those reports a majority of fatalities occure with apparatus and not POV's. I have had complaints from individuals from my department and when I ask the complaintant to give me a written statement, most of the time, I do not hear about it any more.

Yes there are a few bad apples that spoil the whole cart. However, this ticket that was issued had nothing to do with bad, wreckless or careless driving, just the fact that the LEO's interpretation of and emergency vehicle in different than that of the FD's.

I disagree, for serveral reasons.

 

1) In some locations, the fire chief, EMS chief, or other officials get a car allowance rather than an issued vehicle.  That means the chief owns the vehicle, it is a licensed emergency vehicle, and that the city (or other local government or fire district) pays the chief a set monthly amount for fuel, tires, insurance, etc.

 

2) I am familiar with several places where volunteer rescue squads got through a licensing process to get their POVs licensed as emergency vehicles.  In those places, there is quite a bit of rugged back country, and the POVs are 4WDs that can go places some of the "official" vehicles cannot.

 

3) There are places where the EMS Medical Director responds to calls in a POV licensed as an emergency vehicle, then dons turnout gear and works the wreck, fire, hazmat, or whatever along with everyone else.

 

I certainly don't believe that every vollie everywhere needs a POV emergency vehicle license, but an outright ban "just because" is not the best answer to this issue.

This issue does not appear to be about anyone "driving like an idiot".  This is about a cop making a legal interpretation that the POV was not a licensed emergency vehicle, which is apparently up for debate, given the state law that was cited elsewhere in this thread.

This is not a SOG issue.

 

This is solely about a cop making a questionable interpretation of whether or not the POV meets the state's emergency vehicle criteria or not.

To Bull,

 

LIKE, LIKE, LIKE.  Oh, this isn't Facebook, but great comment, and right on target.

I strongly disagree. 

 

"That's not the point."  Prove it.

 

"The point is without them, there will be less issues in many areas."  How so?

 

"If a person drives like an idiot without them then they definately should not be driving with one."   That doesn't matter.  How is denying someone lights and sirens on a POV going to make them NOT drive like an idiot?  You are trying to cure a symptom without any concern for the disease.

Read back to the begining of the Thread , I posted exactly what the law says.

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