Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Assembly passes Gordon legislation to protect volunteer firefighters and motorists


Assemblyman Tim Gordon (I-Bethlehem) announced that the Assembly has passed legislation to help keep volunteer firefighters and motorists safe by allowing fire departments to install a combination of blue, red, and white lights on the rear of fire and emergency response vehicles (A.8470-A). Studies have shown that blue light can be seen from a greater distance and are more noticeable than red and white lights, which may be mistaken for tail lights.

“As a volunteer firefighter, I have witnessed vehicles flying past us at top speed while we were working to put out a car fire,” said Gordon. “By allowing fire vehicles to display a combination of red and blue lights, we can help get motorists attention sooner so they have time to slow down – protecting both the drivers and the emergency responders at the scene.”

Current law prohibits volunteer fire fighters from displaying a blue light in combination with red lights. This legislation would allow the installation of rear-facing blue lights in combination with red and/or white lights on fire department vehicles. Volunteers using a personal vehicle would remain limited to the use of a single blue light projected in 360 degree fashion. The legislation, which has the support of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY), also requires motorists to reduce their speed when approaching an emergency vehicle that is stopped on a highway.

Volunteer firefighters regularly perform emergency duties along the side of the road where they and passing motorists are at risk. Studies by the Ford Motor Company and the Florida Highway Patrol clearly indicate that the perception-decision-response process in driving – especially at night and when approaching from the rear – significantly favors blue light, which can be seen from a greater distance.

“As firefighters our mission is to protect life and property, said Evan Eisenhandler, of the Poestenkill Fire Company. “Naturally any measure, like Assemblyman Tim Gordon's legislation, that improves safety for the public and emergency responders should be signed into law.”


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