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  1. #1
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    Yielding to fire fighter POV with red lights

    I have wondered about this for a while. People have told me that you don't have to yield to a fire fighter in their POV even if he has red lights (i.e. responding to the station for a call). So I looked up GS20-157 and it is not very specific. It says "fire department vehicle". I guess this is up to interpretation. I am assuming a judge would only call official fire fighting vehicles such as engines and other officially marked vehicles as "fire department vehicles". However I think fire fighters that have been properly authorized by their Chief to equip their vehicles with red lights for the purpose of responding to the station for a call should be included in this law. Otherwise there is really no point for them to have red lights in their POV. Sure some people will pull over but a lot do not. And if the volunteers that are not at the station are slowed in getting there, the total response time is slowed. What are your thoughts?

    Note: I am not a fire fighter, but my brother is. That is what made me curious.

  2. #2
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    Also, if there were to be an addition to this law by legislators, they could also require the fire fighters to get some sort of license or at least written permission from the Chief to get red lights, and also make it mandatory to apply for the fire fighter special license plate. This (hopefully) would cut down on Average Joe putting red lights on his vehicle after the new law passed requiring people to yield to fire POVs. LE could notice if vehicles with red lights had the fire license plate and if not, stop them.

  3. #3
    Forum Member Seventy2002's Avatar
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    GS20-157 says " warning signal by appropriate light and by audible bell, siren or exhaust whistle" (emphasis added).

    No siren, no yield

  4. #4
    Professional Cat Herder ccsd157's Avatar
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    Also, 20-157 states that you must yield to an EMERGENCY VEHICLE that is displaying proper light and audible signal. NC law defines an EMERGENCY VEHICLE as motor vehicle that:

    A vehicle owned and operated by a police department or by the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety including the State Highway Patrol or by the Wildlife Resources Commission or the Division of Marine Fisheries and used exclusively for law enforcement purposes, or by the Division of Emergency Management, or by a fire department, either municipal or rural, or by a fire patrol, whether such fire department or patrol be a paid organization or a voluntary association, vehicles used by an organ procurement organization or agency for the recovery and transportation of human tissues and organs for transplantation, and every ambulance or emergency medical service emergency support vehicle used for answering emergency calls.

    So, basically it is not considered an EMERGENCY VEHICLE in NC unless it is a vehicle that is owned by a department, and therefore personally owned motor vehicles do not fall under that definition.

    GS 20-130.1 gives authority to volunteer firefighters (as well as some other people) the authority to have and use red lights. Sirens and other audible warning devices are restricted to department Cheifs and Assistant Cheifs.
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  5. #5
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    So, yea, Ricky Redlights is breaking the law . . . but damn he's cool doin' it. Not!

  6. #6
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    They are "courtesy lights." There is no legal requirement to yield. There was a recent blow-up on the NCSHP's facebook page about this very issue.

    My area relies heavily upon volunteer firefighters and first responders, and I was one myself for almost 10 years (FF/EMT). I used red lights on my personal cars, so "Ricky Red Lights" comments from cops with a complex irritate me. The vast majority of guys are responsible with their use of red lights, and the can make a difference in saving lives. There have been several times when I've seen folks not yielding on two-lane curvy roads to firemen responding to a legitimate incident...so since I'm going to the same incident, I'll either fall in behind them with blue lights and siren to get the idiot out of the way, or at an intersection, I'll turn on just my siren which people will hear, then they'll see the the other guy's red lights, and yield.

    I don't mean this rudely at all, but it will come across that way and I'm sorry. Your opinion of what the law should be is irrelevant. If volunteer POVs were to be included in the statute, they would need to be permitted to use sirens as well. Maybe that would be a good change (for some), provided that chiefs could authorize who could have a siren and who couldn't, and some kind of EVOC was required. The potential for abuse is there.

    When I first started in the late 80s/early 90s, wig-wags could be used by volunteer firemen but they aren't authorized now either. They clear traffic better than anything because they are so visible. But now LEDs are so relatively inexpensive and insanely bright that it can be hard to tell the difference between a POV and an emergency vehicle anyway.

  7. #7
    Professional Cat Herder ccsd157's Avatar
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    Couldnt agree more obxemt. I was a volunteer FF for 18 years and had an obscene amount of lights all over my vehicle. I personally think that wigwags and sirens should be legal for the volunteers but with some regulation. I also agree for the most part all volunteers are responsible, but you will always have the gung-ho newbies that will push the limits of what is allowed.
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  8. #8
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    Thanks for clarifying the laws, and for all your input.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccsd157 View Post
    I was a volunteer... and had an obscene amount of lights all over my vehicle.
    My installations were always tasteful.

    Now I have a patrol car to decorate. A squirrel is a squirrel, even when no longer a fireman. And I'm a light/siren squirrel still, even after all these years.

  10. #10
    Supervisor? Landric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by obxemt View Post
    My installations were always tasteful.

    Now I have a patrol car to decorate. A squirrel is a squirrel, even when no longer a fireman. And I'm a light/siren squirrel still, even after all these years.
    No doubt about that...
    -Landric

    "The Engine could still smile...it seemed to scare them"-Felix

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