Each year in the United States, approximately 100 firefighters pay the ultimate price in their service to the community. Thousands more are injured. While some of these deaths and debilitating injuries are unpreventable, there are many that can be avoided - with your help!
Among the greatest dangers faced by firefighters and other public employees is the inattention and carelessness of motorists near emergencies and work zones. The Los Angeles Fire Department wants you to be aware of the danger faced by your first responders, and to adopt two simple driving habits:
- In California and many parts of North America, the law requires motorists - if safe to do so - to slow and/or move to an adjacent lane for emergency personnel, transportation maintenance workers and tow operators working on or near the highway (in lanes or on the road shoulder). There is a reason...
- Many drivers also disregard the law in California (and other States and Provinces) that prohibits motorists from driving over any hose being used by the Fire Department.
With some fire hoses flowing hundreds of gallons of water per minute, the abrupt interruption of a water supply at the scene of a fire - even for a second, is far more than an inconvenience. A sudden lack of water or surge in water pressure can not only destroy the expensive pump in a fire engine, it can endanger firefighters deep within a burning building and those they are trying to save.
While the thought of someone being thrown around like a rag doll by an out of control fire hose may at first sound comical, in the context of a firefighter inside a burning building or atop a ladder, a sudden lack of water or surging hose can be a career or life ending crisis.
In the video below, an understandably upset business owner disregards multiple traffic control measures and drives over a fire hose [3:50 on video] during a fire that raged in South Los Angeles while the city slept this Christmas morning. While it may seem only a "small bump" to the casual observer, it is a far different experience for a firefighter deep inside an inferno. Thankfully, there were no civilian or firefighter injuries at this blaze...
Public safety agencies nationwide are working together to improve the safety of responders and motorists. We ask you to do your part in remaining attentive behind the wheel and following laws that are designed for our collective safety. Operating your vehicle with regard for those working on and near the highway is a demonstrable way to show you care.
Highway safety is a complex issue. Our friends at the California Office of Traffic Safety have issued the 2013 California Highway Safety Plan. We think you'll find it interesting. To learn more, visit:
Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department