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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Roadway risk to firefighters

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's Note: Chief Adam K. Thiel reminds us that even small vehicles can cause big injuries in vehicle vs apparatus collisions. 

This story is a great reminder that we can be doing everything right — driving defensively with due regard for other drivers — and still face a high degree of risk during emergency responses. I know we're all glad the firefighters onboard were treated and released from the hospital with only minor injuries.

It also reinforces the importance of stopping at stop signs and red lights.

While we don't know the exact physics of this crash, it's not hard to picture a scenario where the firefighters' injuries could have been much worse if they were transiting the intersection at-speed when broadsided by this underage driver. Remember your high school physics: Force = Mass x Acceleration. Even a Chevy Malibu can deliver quite a blow depending on its speed, and the speed of the unwitting "target."

In 2011, we were fortunate to see the continuation of an overall decline in firefighter line-of-duty deaths. Vehicle-related incidents, however, still account for a large number of firefighter deaths and injuries, as well as civilian casualties.

Drive safe!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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