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.