POV responses: What firefighters should know

It's critical to understand your state laws, department SOPs and your personal liability

Editor’s Note:

Editor's note: The Holts Summit Police Department in Mo. issued a reckless driving ticket to a New Bloomfield Fire Protection District volunteer firefighter as he was en route to a fire on Saturday. It highlights some POV response issues for firefighters, says our Editorial Advisor Chief Adam K. Thiel.

I expect this story will generate a lot of discussion over the next few days.

My own experience(s) with running calls in both a lights-and-siren equipped POV as a volunteer deputy chief, and now as a career fire chief, have convinced me that no matter what we do to be visible, emergency response in a passenger vehicle (or any other vehicle, frankly) is an extremely hazardous activity that deserves a serious risk-benefit assessment every time.

When you look at the number of firefighter fatalities each year during POV responses, it seems clear that they deserve special attention by fire departments and individual responders.

If you respond POV, it's critical to understand your state laws (and their interpretation by state/local law enforcement officials), department SOPs, and perhaps most importantly, your personal liability for anything that might happen during a POV response.

The United States Fire Administration has a lot of great resources, and links, on its Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative website.

Stay 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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