Pa. county aims to limit non-emergency fire truck use

A recent incident in which a fire truck got a parking ticket in a grocery store parking lot sparked debate on how the trucks should be used


 By FireRescue1 Staff

LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — County officials are hoping to limit the non-emergency use of fire trucks after multiple incidents involving apparatus.

PennLive.com reported that fire officials met at a Public Safety Committee meeting to discuss the use of fire trucks for routine, daily tasks such as going to the gym or getting groceries.

The debate was sparked by two incidents involving Colonial Park Fire Company trucks in February. First, a fire department vehicle was involved in a minor crash while out on “routine business,” according to Chief John Fogg.

The other incident occurred in a grocery store parking lot when a fire truck received a ticket for parking in the fire lane.

Chief Fogg said firefighters who participate in the live-in program often take the fire trucks out for routine activities such as lunches and work out sessions so they can respond to calls quickly if an incident arises.

He added that firefighters are not allowed to take the trucks out on their own, but must be in a group that keeps the truck fully staffed, and said that using a company pickup truck instead of an apparatus as some suggested doesn’t solve the issue of firefighters having to drive back to the station in case of a call.

"I talked to 75 people, and when I explained what's being done, the public perception is 'I don't care. I don't care what they do with the truck as long as they get the job done,'" Chief Fogg said.

The recent incidents, however, prompted public safety director Adam Kosheba to form some kind of guideline for how the trucks can be used.

Kosheba said the firefighters should not be allowed to use the trucks whenever they want, but it makes sense in some cases.

"I don't know if grocery shopping with an engine fits," Kosheba said. "I believe there is a place where, if you want to engage in team camaraderie, then taking two pieces of apparatus to a restaurant is OK."

Paxtonia Fire Chief Dustin Ross said a middle ground should be implemented by requiring three or four firefighters to be on a truck any time it leaves the station.

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