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  • Noise at Night

    Does anyone use any courtesy for runs late at night. I am talking about when no traffic is on the road and you are going through a small town that rolls up its streets at 8pm do you still wake up the sleeping. We have a dept in our area that does and my Dept doesnt. I know the laws but is it so bad to have some courtesy for the sleeping??

  • #2
    Personally, I feel that if there is a need to have lights on, then there is a need to have your siren on. Along those lines, if ya don't need your siren, then you don't need your lights. So I guess it depends on the type of call to which you are responding.

    If you don't think you need your siren because you're worried about waking people up, then you probably don't need your lights either. Like you said, if there isn't a car on the road and the only stoplight in town is blinking yellow, what is the point?

    On the other hand, if you're headed to a "hot" call and plan on taking advantage of the exemptions made for emergency vehicles (proceeding through stop signs & red lights, operating against flow of traffic, exceeding posted speed, expecting cars to yield to you, etc.) I would have the lights and siren on. I view call response as an all-or-nothing type deal. Either it needs a "hot" response, or it doesn't. And I think using terms like hot vs. cold is better than the vague "codes 1 through 3", "priorities 1 through 4," etc. There's less room for error if it's kept simple and reasonable.

    If the call you are responding to does not necessitate such driving, then I don't think you need lights and sirens -- whether it's 2 in the morning or 2 in the afternoon. Granted, a prioritized dispatching system helps a great deal in determining whether a call is "hot" or "cold," and provides a uniform set of guidelines for everyone to operate under. A prioritized dispatching system (AMPDS, for example) would take into account your specific EMS delivery model. For example, a more rural service might be running "hot" more often than a suburban transport rig that is responding to scenes already being tended to by a 1st Responder engine company.

    Just keep in the back of your mind the following; all it takes is one collision for it to be one collision too many. And if you collide while responding in "hot" mode but without all of your warning devices operational (lights AND siren), in many places you'd be in a world of trouble.

    Courtesy for the sleeping is nice, but I think your question deals in part with the larger issue of emergency vehicle operation and call prioritization. When viewed in this way, I think it's easier to decide how you're going to drive at 2am.

    Then again, maybe all I did was muddy the waters for ya. =)

    [This message has been edited by Resq14 (edited 01-01-2001).]


    • #3
      We turn our siren off as much as possible. The lights and siren are a request not a demand to have the right of way. We must still obey all the rules of the road with the exception of greater speed. If I am coming on a busy intersection or an area with other traffic I turn the siren on. The most important thing to remember is to drive cautiously. Also expect the populous to Ignore the fact that you are an emergency vehicle and drive defensively.


      • #4
        Generally after midnight, we tend to only hit the sirens near street intersections and when there are cars on the road. We try to be a little curtious at night, even though we still have the siren on top of the firehouse blaring away.

        703: Unlike where you live, here in CT the sirens and lights are a demand for right-of-way. Our personnal lights in our cars (which are blue) are just curtousy lights which only request right-of-way.


        • #5
          In all honesty i think that the use of lights and sirens is purely situational, I know that in my dept, we use the use the electronic, Q2 and air horns on all of our major streets all the time. I do not have a problem with this because i live in the middle of the city and there are always lots of people on the road reguardless of the time. now when it comes to the neighborhoods when it is 3am i really feel that it is unecessary to use sirens but still use the lights, shut them off at the scene if they are not needed. I guess it all comes down to what is safest, people can always go back to bed but we cannot replace one of our brothers who was lost due to some Jamoke blowin an intersection and t boneing the apparatus. like i said before it is purly on the situation at hand

          the above are my opinions and mine alone

          Kevin Wiseman
          Oklahoma State University School Of Fire Protection
          Ponderosa FD, Houston Texas


          • #6
            I look at it this way, knowing the people in my territory as I do, The more folks we wake up, the more likely they are to shoot or cut somebody, the more likely we are to go on another call later. So I try to be as quiet as I can within the rules. I run lights & siren as our Dept. Operating Guidlines specify. Since no specific siren is mentioned, I usually just "bump" the Fed. Q2b on the way to the call. That way I'm following the guidelines and not disturbing the locals as bad as using both sirens and air horns.

            'Nuff said.

            GOD is my Fire Chief, JESUS is my Incident Commander!


            • #7
              Got your story down? It may go something like this...."Mr. Firefighter, would you please explain to the jury as well as the 6 surviving children of Mrs. Doe why you did not have your siren on when you responded to that emergency." There has been instances where emergency workers have ended up in jail on manslaughter charges even when both lights and sirens were in use.


              • #8
                My department uses lights and sirens for all calls, but we try to keep the sirens to a minimum at night. The Engines and Tower usually use the Q and it's keep low until we get near an intersection then it gets bumped a few times until we get through. The Squads use the electronic siren and try to use it minimally.

                **The preceding comments in no way represent the views of my department, its members, or associations that it may belong to.**


                • #9
                  I hope I didn't miscommunicate my point.

                  I certainly agree that it's usually completely unnecessary to play with the siren at 3am, especially in the smaller parts of the country like where I'm from.

                  But what I don't underdstand is if you don't need your siren, why do you have your lights on??? I've always thought that these "partial" emergency responses send mixed messages to the public. Either use the warning equipment if you need to get there, or don't use it at all.

                  I still maintain that if you are making use of the exemptions allowed for emergency vehicles (as your state allows), you'd better have all of your warning equipment operational. No, it's not a "get out of jail free" card, but it sure as heck is common sense.

                  Along the lines of sending mixed messages, I don't understand why some people activate lights and sirens while driving 5mph under the speed limit, completely stopping at every intersection, and basically driving with the flow of traffic. Safe driving is great. But if you're not going to be driving in "emergency mode," I think it's generally a bad practice to have your warning devices on.

                  Tradition dies hard I guess.


                  • #10
                    Our Brigade has a policy that between 2300hrs and 0700hrs the use of sirens will be restricted and used at the OIC's discretion. All drivers, I am sure, proceed with all due care and attention and don't put themselves, crew members or other road users in danger. It's also difficult stopping a 12 ton truck in a very short distance and warnings are needed. I sometimes see other stations on straight roads, at night, no other road users in sight and the horns are blearing - why. Must be on an ego trip.

                    Horns are only a warning, not a right of way. It takes a lot to be an emergency driver, they need all the help that they can get. Drive within the limits of the vehicle, consider prevailing weather conditions, consider the danger locations (junctions), think and plan ahead and think for the other road user and, at night, there will be no need to wake up every man and his dog for miles around.

                    Kindest regards & keep safe,

                    Sprinkle (UK)


                    • #11
                      Use of a siren, should be the decision of the DRIVER... not the officer. The driver is the person in control and in charge of the vehicle while it is moving. The driver should be able to make decisions on the amount of warning to use.

                      If the driver is in complete control of the vehicle then there shouldn't be a concern that the truck could t-bone another vehicle at an intersection. I guess the bottom line is simple - slow down, have due regard, and use caution. There's as little need to blow through an intersection as there is to wind a Q2 to its maximum speed.
                      - Turk


                      • #12
                        I limit the use of my siren at night. There is a lot less that you have to watch for at night. We use the sirens thru intersections and if there are cars on the road. The siren is not going to save you from getting in an accident, your brain is what keeps you from that. If you drive sensibly and pay attention to the road and the other .... "drivers" then you will probably do all right. Fireman703 said it best "Also expect the populous to Ignore the fact that you are an emergency vehicle and drive defensively.". They will !!

                        As far as using the lights, we are expected to respond "emergency traffic" on emergency calls and that is what we do.
                        When emergency personnel get on scene and evaluate the situation, then it can be decided whether everyone else is needed emergency traffic or not. You cannot always read the situation thru a phone line.
                        Well nuff' babblin'

                        Eddie C. - a.k.a - PTFD21
                        ECarn21's Homefire Page
                        Local 3008
                        "Doin' it for lives n' property"

                        [This message has been edited by F52 Westside (edited 01-02-2001).]


                        • #13
                          The choice is pretty clear here in PA...the vehicle code clearly states that (I'm paraphrasing) all visual and audible warning devices shall be activated when responding to an emergency. There is no exception for time of day, etc. For many years, my company did run these half-baked responses (lights/no siren or sirens only at intersections) because it was night, because it was some non-emergency call, or whatever.

                          In more recent years, we want emergencies to be run lights & sirens and non-emergencies to be run "normal flow", and nothing in between. To be honest, it's taken a while for some people to get used to the idea that they need to decide from the get-go that they are either running hot or cruising in "normal flow". Regardless of whether they completely agree or not, everyone has prety much gone along with this without much complaining. What's convinced the "non-believers" have been the few fender-benders we've gotten into over time...the first 20 questions the cops ask are variations on "did you/they have their lights and sirens going" and "did you/they slow down/stop before going through that intersection". If you pass those two tests, and there are bystanders who can verify your story, you're generally OK (because the other driver involved will usually get cited for failure to yield.

                          As for the community, there really haven't been any complaints from anyone of any consequence (we have a few neighbors that will bitch no matter what we do, but they're the same ones that bitch no matter what the cops do, the Borough Council does, etc., etc., so everybody just ignores them). It's kind of the same phenomenon as our ouse siren...we got many more complaints when we shut it down (or it went OOS on its own) than when it's running.


                          • #14
                            In our province, we have the same thing as what Bob "paraphrased". The only thing is that nobody seems to listen. Personally, I would run all out, but I'm afraid of being singled out or whatever else people will do to a person. Know what I mean? We have even reviewed the provincial policies a few times. Just my thoughts.....


                            If you sent us to HELL, WE'D PUT IT OUT!!


                            • #15
                              We turn our sirens on until we get tired of them, or if there's cars out then we turn the sirens on (especially if it's the "Q")! We also turn them on if we know someone that lives on the road! Like a fire fighter or a friend or something! I slept through a call that ended up being a structure and the first truck went by my house and they turned all sirens on to wake me up! But I don't think the citizens should even think about complaining unless the dept. is just going a few blocks to a call! (sorry about rabelling on there!)


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