Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Please give the firetruck some room.

I will be giving away Kindle versions of my book Dangers, Toils and Snares: Confessions of a Firefighter, for free on Amazon on Saint Patrick's day, I am Irish after all. Please help spread the word.

I have been asked what it is like to ride in a firetruck many times and all I can say is; it’s freaking cool, one of the coolest things I have ever done. Not the riding around doing the mundane activities of getting from point A to B.

No I’m talking about red lights and sirens balls to the walls blasting down a three lane road going against traffic at 50 miles per hour stuff. What a thrill, and you know what makes it so thrilling?

You the general public, yes you people make it more exciting sometimes than the emergency we are trying to get to. The absolutely amazing things you do in front of us adds an incredible edge of terror for us. Thank you.

I know that to receive a driving license a test must be taken and upon successful completion of said test a license is awarded. I also know that there is at least one question on the exam that asks the test taker what to do when they encounter an emergency vehicle responding to an emergency.

And I know the correct answer to that question is “B” (Don’t tell anyone I gave you that answer I don’t want to get in trouble) pull as far to the right side of the road as possible and come to a stop until the firetruck, police car or ambulance passes you.

Now that I have given you the answer there are no more excuses for improper conduct on the roadways, right? Let me expand this answer to cover what might, under duress seem to be a better thing to do, trust me your thoughts on alternate driving options are wrong.

Keep in mind the man or woman driving the BRT has gone through hours of training and class instruction just to get the privilege of dealing with you. Even with their high level of instruction and professionalism they can be surprised by your movements. Also remember the BRT always wins when it impacts your car.

Option number one, seen frequently by the Driver/Engineer is the “Slam”. The slam is just what it implies, slamming on the brakes right in front of the BRT. The Slam is especially disturbing to us as it gives us very few options other than crushing your car. Please don’t do it.

The other thing with the Slam is that it’s hard on the firefighters as well. The inside of the truck is full of not only people but many heavy and unrestrained objects that tend to be set in motion by the sudden breaking of the Driver. Not only do flying objects get damaged, they do damage.

What might seem like another viable option is just pull to the left. What’s the big deal? Left, right, who cares I’m getting out of the way. Here’s the thing if everyone else goes right (a good thing) and you go left and we get a Slammer, guess what we have nowhere to go other than into the Slammer.

I know you just have to make that next left turn and it’s only a block away and after all there is a whole turn lane up there and then I’ll be out of the way. I mean you have to get that cup coffee right, or get to the store and if you pull over to the right you will never make that turn and be stuck in the traffic jam we just caused? You have things to do and places to be. We understand that.

Next time you have the urge to out run us and get in that left turn lane (where more than likely we will still be right behind you) think about where we are going and what kind of emergency are we going to. Someone needs us and that someone or something might be a part of your life, just saying. And you are slowing us down because what difference do a few seconds make.

I remember a driver like that one time. She was obviously in a real hurry and couldn’t be bothered by a firetruck. She say us coming and we saw her. It was late at night, she was driving a bright red sports car. We went around her and though a red light. Seconds later she lapped us like Jimmy Johnson.

“What the hell?” said Hatchet he was behind the wheel. We watched as her tail lights faded in front of us, then her brakes flashed as she hit a red light and stopped. Once again we went through the light and once again as soon as she got her green she caught us and passed us.

This went on for five red lights, by the third light not only was Hatchet pissed but so were all of us.

“Get her Hatchet.” I yelled from the backseat. The Lou had a better plan, at the next light he told all of us to get her license plate number as we went by.

We all leaned out our windows as Hatchet slowed down and indicated our disappointment with her conduct by waving politely and pointing at her. She was a real looker and simply gave us a broad sexy smile as she screamed past us again.

We were collectively dumbfounded. We were powerless over this woman and that pissed us off (truth is we were powerless over all women and that pissed us off too). We were a firetruck by God and she had to heed our commands.

And then she was gone. We got her plate number, a car dealer’s plate. The next day another emergency worker a cop listened to our tale. He ran the license and found it belonged to a nearby car dealer.

About an hour later the cop stopped back by the firehouse. He had found her at work, she was a very successful car saleslady and rather shocked to realize she could be cited the next day for the previous night’s bad behavior.

So make it easy on yourself, just pull to the right for sirens and lights, pretty please.


Anonymous said...

#1 - I always pull to the right upon the sight of flashing red lights and sirens.

#2 - I never thought about those heavy flying object inside your fire trucks, should you have to brake suddenly for a clueless driver who refuses to abide.

#3 - Hahaha! Love the comment about your crew being powerless over women. 8)

Nice post, Fireman!

Kathy said...

This reminded me of a time shortly after I got my driver's license. I was driving along with the radio cranked as loud as it could go in my own little world. Little did I know a fire truck had come up behind me and blew their horn. I honestly almost filled my pants. It scared the be Je$u$ out of me. I swerved off the road and literally panted for breath. The fire truck sped on its merry way. From that day forth I never drive with the music cranked to the max and I always pay better attention to what is going on behind me. I always pull off for emergency vehicles, but that one time the music was so loud, I simply didn't hear the sirens. I have never made that mistake again. It was a real eye opener for a 16 year old! Your story reminded me of it. I love reading what you write!


Jenn said...

I always pull off the the right. I usually drive in the right lane (when there is more than one lane going my direction) thus making it easier to get out the way.

But this one time--I was in completely gridlocked traffic. I was in a left turn lane that wasn't moving. There was less than 2 feet between me and that concrete center divide, which was raised and you couldn't drive over. I do mean completely gridlocked--there was NO where for me to go but about 6 feet forward.

Then here came the sirens.

OMG..I edged over toward the right of my lane as much as humanly possible and they were coming up my left side. Normally these Firetruck drivers would go out and around drive against the oncoming traffic--but it was gridlocked, not moving--so up my lane he came.

And the guy in front of me didn't move. The guy next to me didn't move--there was a firetruck SLOWLY blaring his horns for us to get out of the way--but we didn't have anywhere to go. I literally edged up that 6 feet of space between me and the car ahead and pulled to the right as far as possible. It was the LONGEST 15 minutes of my life. They weren't very happy about us being in the way--but it wasn't like any of us had anywhere to go.

Curiously, What do you suggest in this situation?

And they wonder why I don't like to drive!! LOL

Cheers, Jenn.

Fireman said...

Thanks to all. Beachlover I'm still powerless. Kathy that happens so often and in the summer add in air conditioning, we really don't like to panic people, because if we cause a wreck we have to stop and take care of it. Jenn that is a hard one, but if ALL the other cross traffic has stopped you can run the light to get out of the way, but only and I STRESS if you are %100 sure there isn't anyone else coming.

Jo said...

Again you post a needed reminder. I say reminder because obviously we all KNOW what to do. I don't usually drive where there is thick multi-lane traffic, but when I do, I think about that emergency vehicle getting through. I have often seen them fly up the extreme right shoulder in those cases. Seems a much better alternative than having 4 or 5 lanes of idiots, I mean drivers, trying to all move over. Just stop where you are. STOP, no edging and no creeping, then the BRT can drive down the shoulder safely and quickly getting where they need to be to help whoever is waiting for them. Moving to the right would take much longer and possibly not even open up enough room for them to get through!
I love you stuff, but still waiting for more on the online dating story! ♥

Fireman said...

I did one yesterday Jo, did you miss it?

Jenn said...

Yeah-- I wasn't the lead car in the intersection--which was already jammed from traffic. It was a very ugly situation, indeed! Thanks Tim!

November Rain - k~ said...

Do you have to be a fireman/policeman to take their license number down and turn it in?

I was told years ago by someone in the police department (don't ask where, because I don't remember now), about what to do if we cannot pull over to the right and he said "STOP, and don't move again until they pass you," because they are trained to weave through traffic, but NOT if we decide to move in the middle of things. What say you Tim?

Fireman said...

Hey Rain I think you pretty much need to be one of us in this situation. The advice to stay put is spot on, we will find a way, it's the moving vehicle that can go right that stops in front of us that is dangerous.

♥ß∃∀υ₮iƒuL| DIs∀sⓣ∃я♥ said...

When I drove, I always stayed toward the right or just got out of the way. Now I avoid it altogether by not even bothering to drive! haha :) Great reminder though, one day I will have the need to get behind the wheel!


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Mining Recruitment said...

I'm sure this is a very good book. Not all people are aware about the lives of firemen. They are heroes.