Red Light district
Ah yes, we’ve all seen them…. Perky young volunteer firefighters whizzing down the road at incredible speed. Trying their absolute best to shave off as many seconds as possible to get to that .0025 acre spot fire, a.k.a. Natural Catastrophe!!!! We’ve seen old women yank that Lincoln Continental off the road. Old men in their 1892 model Ford Pickup truck shake their fists at that young whipper snapper barely an ass hair’s width off their bumper. Frightened citizens all, coming to a screeching dead stop, right in front of that 27 and a half foot set of Goodyear All Terrain Eagle Pro Grip come Hell or High Water rubber streaks in the middle of a four lane highway (that will stay there as a reminder for three months). You know exactly what im talkin’ bout’ Willis! I’m talking about those wonderful Vollies and their awe-inspiring $2,100.95 set of pretty red twinklies!
One follower of ELAFF has brought up the subject, and I whole heartedly approved of throwing my hat into the ring, and giving my own personal ideas and thoughts behind the issue! Now, Be advised, this is not gonna be a bash on the little volunteers and get on my little high horse and wag my finger session. Quite the contrary, I intend to look at this from a neutral perspective. Are they, or are they not a useful presence in the fire service? If you ask a volunteer, of course they are! You aint no real fire man without em! If you ask a professional, its absolutely re-dunkulous and a totally silly excuse to drive like a demon off its ridilin. Without trying to make a 12 page essay on the topic, I’ll shorten it down to a few points.
One question you must ask yourself before you invest yourself into the red light stereotype, is about its practicality. What is the intended use? Well it has from what I can see, two useful purposes. 1: To attempt to save some time by letting people know in front of you to make an attempt to move safely over and allow the first responder the right of way. Anyone who has ever driven emergency traffic knows this is N E V E R the case. See the light, pull to the right is, at least right now, a fantasy. A wishful dream of emergency responders and police. Reality is more along the lines of: See the light, panic, jerk the wheel in both directions at once while simultaneously slamming on the break and let “Jesus take the wheel”. Not very practical, being as were here to HELP people, not cause them to take their own lives by way of accidental vehicular manslaughter. Yeah, live with that on your conscience. Useful purpose #2: Arriving first on scene, the lights allow passing motorists a chance to slow down, and see whats going on ahead of them so they may make a better decision on whether or not to continue going 55 mph in a 45 zone. Now this seems to be a little more practical. However, real life experience suggests that while some may do this, others will see it as a chance to see something awesome, speed up, and even be so mesmerized by the beautiful lights they actually veer toward them like a moth to a flame. So, here we have our practical uses for having red lights. There are some more variables though, you must consider.
One such variable is your ability to use something that unfortunately ALOT of people lack when it comes to red light usage: Commonsense. It’s a dying thing these days, commonsense. Some people have it, some don’t. Some people get it over time, some…. will never, ever possess it….. ever. One example is to go balls to the wall, red lights a shinin’ to, oh lets say a breathing difficulty. Your 3 miles out, but luckily the call is about 2 blocks from the station…. the currently staffed with some paid guys station. Time to let your engine loose and let the lights pave the way? Commonsense says: “no”. Dumbass firefighter behind the wheel says: “Well hell yeah!” I’ll give you yet another subtle example, this one from real life, personal experience. I hear my station get a stand-by 10-70 while I was monitoring one day at home. Of course this is go time, im in my truck and headed to the station before the actual tones go out. Were the red lights on? Yes. Page came out, 10-70 ( fire, to those who are fortunate enough not to be forced to listen to silly codes) and communications advised that this will be behind the residence, neighbors see someone behind their house through the woods, burning something and was worried their house might catch on fire due to embers floating in the air. (click) Red light off. What do I see when I get to the station? There goes the truck, balls to the wall, down the road and incoming firefighters with their lights a flashin’ as hard as they can go! This is what im talking about… commonsense. The neighbors were worried that embers from burning trash/rubbish were going to all band into a fiery flotilla of screaming death and march straight through the pine thicket to raze their home to the ground like a Roman army? Emergency traffic worthy? I think not. Yes, I have mentioned this through the Chain, and yes it still happens because nothing is said or done about it. Not my call.
All this boils down to, to me, is pretty simple. Should vols have the ability to have the red light in their car? That depends on the department. Do you have a crew and several trucks out the door within a min. and a half or so after the page? If so, then running lights in POV’s probably isnt necessary. Do POV’s often arrive on scene first, before the trucks? Lights, maybe useful. Do you have roads in your district that offer motorists the ability to get out-of-the-way safely?It all boils down to your ability to listen to a situation, and correctly assess whether or not driving a POV emergency traffic is WORTH the risk of plowing gammy and peepop off the road in order to get on scene. I know you love it, because I love it. Its awesome. We have the best job in the world! But my goodness, please be careful! You don’t want to live with the guilt of harming someone so you can be the one to put out that spot fire! Commonsense… the ELAFF word of the day!
Stay safe out there Brothers and Sisters!