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."
Agreed. You can also look at the environments of career vs folly departments. A LOT more accidents(no fire service related) happen in urban environments. Most are just fender benders but with that much traffic they are bound to happen. There are plenty of small accidents here in DC with the fire trucks and ambulances(most not our fault) but they are so small that after a report is done, we drive off to the the next run. It's hard to prevent when rush hour lasts the entire day.
Good question, and I don't know the answer to that. In the statistics it only indicates whether the ff involved was in a POV or fire apparatus. Other than those involved with fire apparatus (and most typically, tankers) there's no hard evidence to say that POV's involved in accidents had lights. But I don't think it would be unreasonable to presume that many of those accidents/LODD had lights on their POV's. Otherwise, why would they have been (most commonly) speeding?
Around my area a lot of departments use fire police to control traffic in to and around the scene where the fire department operates. While your idea about taking blue lights off of all vollies has merit, according to PA law members of a fire department are authorized to use blue lights( Title 75 PA Code, Chapter 45 ss4572 paragraph (a))... however the use of flashing yellow lights is defined by PA law as reserved for emergency vehicles(which POV are not), tow trucks, snow removal equipment. Any other vehicle wishing to use yellow lights has to gain approval from PennDOT.
Until/unless the law changes in our area blue lights are the only lights members of a fire department are legally allowed to use
Here is a link to an article that was on EMS1.com on 11-23-2011 on this topic that has been up for discussion here.
"just because" he is a firefighter doesn't mean he did not do something stupid or dangerous while driving...
what is a "valid excuse" ??? and WHO decides was is valid?
is a firefighter allowed to kill someone in a traffic accident "just because" they are enroute to a fire or another emergency call ???
there is MORE to consider than the emergency call - you MUST CONSIDER the entire community
and never forget SOMETIMES firefighters ALSO ... have BAD behaviors...