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  • Satey at traffic scenes

    As I read the latest news I have to say why?
    Why is it that firefighters ,ems, and other rescue personal always end up being struck by vehicles.
    I have had seen first hand the pain that can happen as a result of this type of injury.

    My question is where was the law enforcement
    when these people where struck.
    I do not feel that we as firefighters should be directing traffic. THIS IS A LAW ENFORCEMENT JOB AND NOT OURS!
    If law enforcement is not on scene or available then you need to secure a safe scene using vehicle placement. The traffic can wait! Protect yourself first.

  • #2
    I don't know about your area Kyle, but around here, there isn't much law enforcement to spare for traffic control. In the rural areas, there are often times when only one State Trooper is on duty and the Sheriff's Office may be no better off (and the Sheriff's Office seldom respondes to crashes anyway).

    So, that just leaves the firefighters to handle scene safety --- which include traffic control. There is just no way a Trooper can write a report, take pictures, do measurements, interview parties involved and coordinate wrecker response while standing in the road directing traffic. Normally, this is a person job to begin with anyway.

    We have had a recent disucssion on directing traffic safely. With the nice weather coming back to the upper half of the world, this might me a good time to look back at that thread and review some procedures.

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    • #3
      Safety is everyones job!!! On the fireground or at the scene of an accident. You are right! But the question to be asked is - Who was controlling traffic at the scene where the firefighters were injured or killed by passing vehicles? If the answer is the police - fine. If they take on the responsablity, then they should be handling it properly. If they don't know or don't have the proper equipment to handle traffic control than you have a different problem. Get over to their station and come up with a plan. Help them get the proper equipment and training. At least let them know how importnat it is to keep our firefighter safe. If no police are around than someone must fill in. If you are the reaponding agency than you must do something to create a safe environment for your firefighters, etc. at the scene. Many times all it takes is proper apparatus placement. Ever see a police car parked at an angle at a car stop. Sure, they have other reasons for parking that way, but having your apparatus at a 30 or 45 degree angle between the operation and oncoming traffic will keep cars from cutting through your scene. Worst comes to worst close that road down. Many times police officers in our area try to get the road open as soon as possible. I agree, that should happen. BUT, "as soon as possible" is always after the scene is made safe for emergency responders! Instead of cancelling the second engine or other responding apparatus, have them come in and shut down the roadway or what ever part of it needs to be closed. If we don't take steps to make it safe for ourselves we don't have anyone else to blame.

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      • #4
        The most dangerous job to do at an MVA is traffic.
        At any of our many MVAs we simply block the highway. Sure, the 38 000+ travelers a day get a little mad, but our safety comes first. We do handle some traffic control, but only if we have spare members and time (and we all know how often we get spare members or free time at an MVA!!) As for the police, they set up traffic, sometimes, and only when our IC tells them that they are allowed to :-)

        If it is a minor accident, and when things are done. we reposition the apparatus so that traffic can flow around the scene.

        The bottom line is that our safety comes first. If a few travelers don't like it, to bad.... I don't like getting hit and our trucks are bigger them, so they can wait.

        Stay safe.

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        • #5
          In our small neck of the woods, there is only 1 patrolman on duty at a time, add two EMT's and 7 Firefighters we all have to pitch in to help out. We have the traffic vests, two of those talk-about radios, orange flashlight covers and even those paddle stop/slow signs to ensure our saftey.
          Nothing is 100% but this helps. And with the limited resources we make do with what we got if worse comes to worse, we shut the road down. Lets not place blame, the police have jobs at a scene to do too as stated above. And there are alot more of us than them.


          -Nick

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          • #6
            Traffic safty is handled by our fire police and regular police, together. I have seen our fire police shut down THE major road through our town the day after black friday for us because we had a major fire. They also take verbal abuse from motorists who can't get to the "____" (fill in destination). OUR safty is the most important concern, not someone getting to the mall.

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            • #7
              The Police hardly ever do any traffic control in our area. Most of the time there is only a single Officer responding. Our Fire Police or Firefighters do traffic control. Normally the only time we shut down a road is if its block entirely or there is entrapment or some other situation that justifies the closure of the road. I seen one company put stop and slow signs on long poles so they can put them down in pillons.

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              • #8
                When I was a driver, the district had two distinct areas. In town, the local PD had two officers on duty at any time. They'd both beat us to the scene, reroute traffic, etc. Meanwhile, we'd deal with the injuries, extracation, and cleanup. They'd do their investigation once we were out of the way.

                On the other hand, in the "county" area, we'd be looking at 20-30 minutes before we'd see a Sheriff's Deputy. SOP was to park the rig at an angle blocking ALL lanes of traffic (2 lane state hiways, or county roads). One day (on the state hiway) an HP officer showed up (surprise!). He asked me (FAO) when I planned on moving the truck, as he wanted to get a lane open. My captain jumped in and told him we'd move the rig when there were NO FIREFIGHTERS standing in the road.

                We never did any traffic control. We let them back up and/or figure their own way around.

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                • #9
                  Three words ... block the road. We've run into minor scuffles with the PD, but the bottom line is, they need us more than we need them. It hasn't happened at the company I'm with, but it has happened in the county where PD attempted to arrest the driver because he wouldn't reposition the apparatus so traffic could pass by. As soon as the driver said, "Ok, everybody load up, we're going home." PD quickly changed its tune. Bottom line is, our FF's safety is more important than someone getting to work on time. Stay Safe.

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                  • #10
                    Here we use our engine to block off the lanes of traffic. We always try to have one lane between the responders and the lane where traffic is being rerouted. Many times this means putting traffic on the shoulder.
                    The PD and troopers in our area are a little concerned with this tactic but that's the way it is and they know it. They really try to hurry us off the scene so they can open up that free lane. But who wants to stand around an accident scene longer than necessary.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      When we have an MVA, the Fire Dept is in charge. We decide whether to close one lane, 2 lanes, the whole road, and how to detour. We direct traffic on our own unless it is going to be a long while (Like re-assembling telephone poles). The PD does the incident reports, investigations, citations, etc. We leave when the wrecker clears with the involved vehicles and the road is clear.

                      If a lane is going to be closed, there is an apparatus blocking it. We have a lot of reflective cones to secure lanes, as well as STOP / SLOW signs, traffic wands, flares, and a talk-around radio channel for use in traffic ops. Our police frankly love us for this, as they can get what they have to get done, DONE, without worrying about controling traffic.

                      It works out well, and knock on wood, no one hjas gotten hurt yet.

                      Matt

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                      • #12
                        safety is indeed our first priority, but as some of the other rural depts have said, there's not enough law enforcement folks available to do traffic.

                        We've gotten yelled at for closing the road, too. Has anyone had to do some tricky maneuvering, such as "I'm a doctor on call" or "my wife is having her baby!"

                        stay safe, wear LOTS of reflective gear, and if they look like they're not going to stop, don't try to get in their way!

                        Nik

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                        • #13
                          AMEN, Pa Volunteer

                          Many a time we've parked our Rescue or pumper accross the entire roadway, does a great job of shutting down the road. The cops don't like it but they'll adjust.

                          Ask a Police Officer what it would be like trying to investigate an accident using only the cruiser headlights and his flashlight, trying to direct traffic and deal with the involved parties all at once and ALONE.

                          Gotta do what ya gotta do !!

                          Stay safe and have fun, leaving for the weekend to suckup some sun and brews at the cabin !!!

                          ------------------


                          [This message has been edited by res7cue (edited 04-13-2001).]

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                          • #14
                            Everyone's got it right. Block the highway. In our town, we PREFER to handle the traffic. We rarely have more than two officers on the scene, so they are pretty busy. Also, a patrol car is OK as a roadblock, but I feel a whole lot safer when the big red trucks are covering my back.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              20+ tons of steel definitely trumps 2 tons.

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