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."
Thank you heather for your input on the situation. Its a shame that we have brother firefighter/ems that think there POV is classified as an Emergency vehicle there may be laws that say that but if thats the case they had beter let there Insurance carrier of the Pov know what they are doing Because the insurance policy may not cover it without having the propper insurance and second of all the rates for this is high because of the situations and a volunter could not afford the rates they would have to pay! thats why i knick name these people as a HIGH SPEED THROTTLE JOCKY . I guess that these guys will learn there lesson when they get involved in an accident and end up killing someone or killing themself they will get the true picture! As a firrefighter/ems myself there have been to many incidents that could have been prevented thats why it only takes a few bad apples to ruin it for every body! We have to get there safely to do the job that we love to do. Its to easy to get tunnel Vision and not pay attention to what we need to be doing.
My father-in-law (FF) was involved in an accident when one fire truck hit another fire truck both responding to the same structure fire - trucks responding from multiple directions and multiple departments and they did not know where all the trucks were in LITERAL Location to the fire - FFs died.
One of my neighboring departments had a group of guys respond intoxicated - fire truck rolled over - lots of firefighters died - and there was a lawsuit towards the fire school instructor (my friend/colleague) for "failing to teach rookie firefighters SAFE DRIVING" (such as NO drinking and driving fire trucks!) It was later shown that these firefighters WERE ALL taught in fire school safe driving - they just ALL chose to ignore what they were taught
THere are several good insurance companies who cover code equipped vehicles. California Casualty ONLY covers LE/Fire/EMS and have great rates. I actualy pay less with my code equipped vehicle than i did before with another company.
I personally like the POV lights on scene - in a rural district the PD may not respond at all to scenes and the extra lights strategically placed can greatly aid the rescuers and the community.- especially in the dark, sleet, fog, snow, etc. etc. etc. etc.
It is also very helpful to mark a location - such as a super long driveway or a random unmarked street number housing area.
I know perhaps there are better traffic management systems - but you do what works with the resources that you have available to you.
If that's your reasoning then do you actually need to use them while responding? Also your hazards should do the same thing.
I've used my hazards and most people dont notice them or think you have them on by accident. In my experience they don't work well at all. A lot of it is I think a majority of the general population doesnt know what the lights on personal vehicles means or may not even notice them for a while.
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.
Danny that's a rubbish statement!
Any member of any agency who has that mentality (ie: You charged me, so I won't do everything in my power to help you!) has no right to be a member.
Without knowing that applicable laws myself, if the law is the law, then the Police were doing their job. Simple.
If it's an error in interpretation, then it's probably a good thing it's happened because now everyone is clear for future operations.
I agree with you Ben- a SOG is a department issued document. The law is the law and will always over rule a department issued SOG.
i know many FFs that only use their lights on their POVs when their vehicle is parked in some weird place on scene - or if they are doing something like directing traffic a mile down the road, they use it to alert traffic of a change in environment.
I also know many FFs that only use their hazards either to respond or to warn on scene - though it does seem that many people don't see hazards lights as "DANGER AHEAD" which is sometimes the message being communicate (i.e black ice, road flooded, mud slide,
And my point was some people view the emergency lights as a safety device and is multi-faceted with ways to use it to improve safety.
My district mtns & corners & forests & storms - I can see a red light flashing around the corner or through trees even before I actually see the vehicle this is helpful to slow down traffic, in my experience.
there are times that it is good to have a blue or green light on your pov but a siren can cause more problems than it is meant to do. When I lived in Illinois you could use a light but no siren on POV. whitch also brings up another critticle point of having too many vehicles on the scene and not enough room for the Responding units to get close enough to do the job. I have seen In St Paul amd Minneapolis that some times they respond to much equipment to the scene of a traffic accident 2-3 pumpers and 4-5 squad cars not including 2or more ambulances for a two person accident that looks like a waste of the tax payers money. I guess that the want to be there to get in on whats going on. thats like a department in sothern Minnesota that they respond with an ambulance and think its a serious incedent when its not and Bring in Mayo-one to fly the patent to the Hospital thats ok if its needed but if the person does not have Insurance that will cover the flight. It cost a minimum of $9000.00 dollars for the flight. Another wast of tax payers money! But I belive that we are all out there to help the public we need to get there and return back at a safe response. those of use that do wrong may get away with it for some of the time but If you break the law you must pay the price! and if anough complants come in from the general public that can damage your department and eventually they will tell you that your services are not needed any more so do what you think is wright but if its not you have to suffer the consequences and pay the ticket. Hopefully the volunteer will take it as a wake up call that he will have to change his ways before he causes a serious accident that he didn't want to get into in the first place.
We can get Mayo One on scene in South Carolina? Awesome!
Some states (including the one in question) define POVs with lights and siren as an emergency vehicle. If the drivers and the vehicles are both certified, there's no reason for them to not use the emergency equipment when it is legal to do so.
It is illegal to operate flashing hazard lights in a moving vehicle in some states as well.