Right of Way for Fire Apparatus
In his very interesting article on general matters of interest to fire chiefs, in connection with his annual recommendations appearing in this week’s issue of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING, Chief Mesnar opens up by a reference to a vital problem that is attracting countrywide attention—that of the right of way for fire apparatus and the interference with them by automobiles.
The automobile has raised several important problems in fire-fighting since its introduction as a means of locomotion, among which are the hazards of the garage with its inflammable materials; the hazards of fires from backfiring of automobiles; the hazards of the garage built under sleeping quarters and so on.
But this question of the interference with the fire apparatus strikes at the very heart of things in fire-fighting. The absolute necessity for fire apparatus to be at a fire in its beginning, whenever possible, makes a clear passage for them of vital importance. If they are compelled to slow down at frequent intervals to avoid collisions with autos that should be drawn up at the curb and stationary, but instead are racing with the fire engines, there can be no surety that the firemen will arrive promptly at a fire. The minutes lost in thus being compelled to drive slowly may mean lives lost or a fire that has gotten beyond control. Or, per contra, it may mean a collision and the sacrifice of the lives of firemen or those of the interfering motorists and, of course, still more serious delay in answering the alarm.
Traffic signals are an excellent remedy but they do not insure against the reckless motorist who is willing to take a desperate chance in order to enjoy a little excitement. The things that count are a law that is distinct and unmistakable in its provision as to all matters connected with interference of the fire apparatus and a strict and impartial enforcement of this law by the police authorities.
No doubt many cities have adopted, or are about to adopt, model laws looking to control this problem of the interference with fire apparatus by motorists. Others are considering the subject and would he glad for hints to help them. Send a copy of your ordinance to FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING for publication and let us know how you plan to meet the difficulty.