This is a reblog of an old post I wrote. At the time I wrote this I was living in the Fort Worth, Tx area. The important aspect isn’t the specific location of the Fire Station, but rather the importance of proper situational awareness both for the general public driving past a fire station (heard the phrase see track think train? How about See Station think Fire Engine) and for the Fire Station crew themselves (rule of thumb – Drivers are NOT paying attention).
I drive by this station fairly frequently and every time I do I have to feel sorry for the firefighters there. I think this has to be (I say this tongue-in-cheek as I have not seen every single station) the worse station to have to try to get out of among the Fort Worth Fire Departments. The picture doesn’t really show it but coming from the direction opposite the way camera is facing there is a curve (as well as a slight downgrade. Just past the view of the camera is a major intersection. In fact, on one occasion I almost witnessed an accident when one came to abrupt stop for red light (just outside station) and the guy behind slams on brakes, narrowly missing the guy in front. Second guy then proceeds to give first guy dirty look as if to say “Why are you stopping” Let’s see… the red light should have been obvious but just in case you were stupid enough to miss that…. HOW ABOUT THE LARGE FIRE ENGINE COMING OUT OF STATION (idiot)… I believe there was another time where one of the engines leaving the station for a call narrowly missed a car that had decided not to heed the warnings of the red light and emerging Fire Truck.
The sad thing is firefighters all over put there lives at risk just trying to get out of the station. I don’t have data but no doubt numerous accidents occur right in front of the station which causes delay in getting help to those who need it as now another unit has to be dispatched to the call (As I understand, anytime I rig is involved in even a minor fender bender they are taken off whatever call they were headed to).
There is a reason for those traffic lights outside of the stations… When they turn red it means there’s a very good chance a firetruck is about to be heading out on a call. But, you shouldn’t just rely on those lights – Sometimes they don’t come on at all as was the case that I witnessed once at a Fire Station in Beaverton, OR.
Here’s the scenario…. Smaller (rescue) truck pulls out to edge of apron (driveway in front of bay doors) with lights and sirens going. Light isn’t working and DOES NOT change to red, therefore traffic just keeps right on going ignoring lights & sirens. Big Daddy (Ladder) truck pulls out to edge of apron…. *EvilGrin* from driver as he blasts air horn… Cars were screeching, no doubt standing on their brakes, trying to stop. Okay some of you will probably think that isn’t funny and that the driver shouldn’t have done that (perhaps not) but the point is those drivers should have been aware of situation around them. The Rescue truck had sounded it’s horn several times in an attempt to get out safely.
The flip side to all this is that Drivers of EVs (Emergency Vehicles) must also, always, be aware of the situation around them right from the get go – this means as soon as you pull out of the station bays (in fact even before – as you step into your rig). It would be nice if there was a guarantee that everyone out there is paying attention and giving proper right-of-way to Emergency Vehicles, but the fact of the matter is many don’t. It is up to you to do your part in being aware and watching out for the other person who may (very likely) not be paying a bit of attention to the fact that you are trying to get on your way to a call. (I’ll give you a few moments of foot-stomping frustration).
The point to all my rambling is that when it comes to driving around Fire Stations (both the main-stream driver & EV driver) – Situational Awareness is important. Let’s all do our part to ensure that the Emergency Vehicle in question gets to the scene safely – with all it’s crew.