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."
This is very much and SOG issue , If these 2 agencies had been training together and knew each other SOGs , any problems could have been adressed right then in training rather than on the roadway.
Ok lets put this to rest, here is the Official Opinion of the Missouri Attorney General :
"Motor vehicles and equipment which are operated by any member of an organized fire department or ambulance association, whether paid or volunteer, may be operated on streets and highways in this state as an emergency vehicle under the provisions of 304.022, RSMo, 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 while using or displaying thereon fixed, flashing or rotating blue lights, but sirens and blue lights shall be used only in bona fide emergencies. Permits for the operation of such vehicles equipped with sirens or blue lights shall be in writing and shall be issued and may be revoked by the chief of an organized fire department or organized ambulance association and no person shall use or display a siren or blue lights on a motor vehicle and fire or ambulance equipment without a valid permit authorizing the use. Permit to use a siren or lights as heretofore set out does not relieve the operator of the vehicle so equipped with complying with all other traffic laws and regulations. Violation of this section constitutes a misdemeanor." (Emphasis supplied)
This section applies to members of an organized fire department or ambulance association operating motor vehicles or ambulances, whether the members are paid or volunteers, and whether the motor vehicle or equipment which they are operating is publicly or privately owned. It is not limited to fire trucks or ambulances but applies to any motor vehicle operated by members of an organized fire department or ambulance association.
This has been clearly set out decided by the Attorney General since 1977 in the state of Missouri.
Thanks for info that looks good. No mater what the law says all emergency vehicles whether department or personal have to obay the laws of the state. that does not give anyone the right to speed or run a red light, If you do not have control of the vehicle you are responding to an emergency call and get involved in an accident that may cost the department Millions of dollars in law suits. As a fire/police/ems/rescue it wont do you any good to respond to an emrgency call if you dont get there safely. Note in my apinion there should be a seperate insurance policy that the departments have that if you mess up and get involved in an accident that your insurance pays the bill. Note all of the petroleum companys that I have talked to to be able to drive a transport they have to have the same insurance coverage that the company does. lets face it is a safety Issue if the speed limit is 55 you do 55 not 80 or what ever you think you can do!!! there are to many that think its ok to break the law. Its about time we come to reality there are lawyers just chomping at the bit to get there hands on a case that may get you time behind bars you wont do the department any good at the cross bar hotel.just take a look at the accident that happend in missouri where the pumper and tanker hit head on they will hide the truth but if you dont respond safley thats what will happen all of those firefighters injured and down two pieces of eqipment that have to be replaced its better to stop and make sure there is no one that did not se you than to go like a bat out of hell and kill aperson or injure your self. When responding to a call you need to think that it could be your family member in front of you you wouldn't want to hirt your family.Be safe if you have to follow a slow vehicle for a few seconds it won't kill you.
Actually Jeffery thats not true. Missouri says there are several laws that can be "broken" while running code.
(2) The driver of an emergency vehicle may:
(a) Park or stand irrespective of the provisions of sections 304.014 to 304.026;
(b) Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation;
(c) Exceed the prima facie, speed limit so long as he does not endanger life or property;
(d) Disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions;
The commonly stated 10 MPH over is a department SOG or SOP the law does not give a definitive limit by which you can exceed the posted speed limit.
Sounds about the same as Washington's law. Mike, does that include personal vehicles? Sounds like it might but doesn't make mention directly of POV's.
Nathan if you read my earlier post you will see that it includes ANY motor vehicle operated by a member of a fire department or ambulance organization .
The only standing LE has to stop a Firefighter enroute to a call running code is if that FF is not exercising due regard. That said, exactly what due regard is , is subjective i.e.... 10 over may be fine on a dry roadway in daylight responding to a structure fire, however it may not be at night with snow covered roads.
Again i will say we should be working WITH our brothers and sisters in blue , lets not forget we are all here for the same reason.To protect the lives and property of those we serve.
That's interesting. Here we have to obey they standard laws of the road when responding with POV's regardless if we had a light or not. Thanks.
In NY you have NO special rights...Blue light/siren or whatever...the light basically asks for courtesy to allow you to proceed...you have NO authority to break ANY traffic laws and you can be held accountable.....
Here is links to the Kentucky Rivised Statues (KRS) for emergency vehilces;
Flashing lights and siren http://www.lrc.ky.gov/KRS/189-00/920.PDF
Right of way http://www.lrc.ky.gov/KRS/189-00/930.PDF
Exemptions from traffic regulations http://www.lrc.ky.gov/KRS/189-00/940.PDF
Mobil Infrared electronic transmitter http://www.lrc.ky.gov/KRS/189-00/945.PDF
Prohibitions - Exceptions http://www.lrc.ky.gov/KRS/189-00/950.PDF
Penalties - http://www.lrc.ky.gov/KRS/189-00/993.PDF
If you read through these one phrase you will see over and over again is, "Driving with Due reguard to the public". As I tell the members of my department that meaning is up to the twelve jurours setting in the jury box, not what we, as emergency service providers, think it means.
In KY blue lights are for state police, vehicle enforcement, fish and wildlife. Blue and Red are for city police and sheriff (there are some that may still run blue only). Red is for EMS, Rescue, Fire and volunteer POV's.
Here in WA only PD can run blue lights. We use green for POV's. But just like in NY it's no more than a courtesy light.
Due regard: Too many people don't think about it at all and think emergency responders are untouchable.
The original post does not reflect the MOST IMPORTANT statement (to me) made by Holts Summit Police Department Assistant Chief Bryan Reid:
Reid told the news station that:
even if his vehicle was considered to be an emergency vehicle, he still deserved the ticket.
(that is the last sentence of this article)
interesting article. It may still be true that the FF still did deserve the ticket. I have observed many FFs driving reckless or at crazy speeds - as though lights and sirens means total disregard for the safety of others.
Here where I live right now there is a big thing about the PD/fire/EMS stopping for red lights and stop signs AND WAITING UNTIL CLEAR or ALL OTHER TRAFFIC FROM ALL 4 DIRECTIONS HAS STOPPED... since so many fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, etc. have close calls in intersections because they run red lights/stop signs or stop and go when all the traffic has not seen them yet (especially approaching on a green traffic). Our town specifically is pushing hard that ALL emergency vehicles increase their level of attention to the safety of community members and ENSURE that they are not "creating danger" while trying to go rescue another.
I do believe FF/EMS/PD are called to higher standard of practice to drive within the speed limit and mind all traffic laws - arriving on scene 1 minute earlier because you did 90 mph or scared someone to practically drive off the road is ridiculous. And those who practice that STYLE of LIFE SAVING should get tickets.
The PD here are starting to cut-off police traffic pursuits - since it is becoming blatantly obvious that the police's attempt to HELP is actually causing more danger to the community. I have had 2 car chases come by me on the freeway - about gave me a heart attack - cars all over swerving, braking - and I am trained in emergency driving - but each time I would say not only the criminal was being reckless but the police were also being reckless (10 police cars flying around me on both sides, dodging traffic - was way more threatening to my life than the one "get-away speeder" car).
Fire fighters can be arsonists AND firefighters can be reckless drivers AND firefighters can make driving mistakes and errors which are too far outside what is appropriate for the situation.
In my town a police officer responding to a call- with lights - no siren - ran over a little girl who darted out into the street. It was determined that he was doing 34 in a 25 mph, but that little extra speed hindered his ability to stop for an un-expected person in the roadway... and the lack of siren while in emergency mode did not help warn the child either.
just a few thoughts - it is hard to judge when none of us was there