A recent multi-vehicle crash in Miami, Fl has ignited new interest concerning emergency vehicle safety. What exactly must Florida residents or visitors do when an emergency vehicle is approaching? The accident involved a fire rescue apparatus that was responding to an emergency call. It collided with a vehicle that started a chain reaction with seven other vehicles.
Details of the Accident
The accident occurred on the night of Thursday, March 26th, 2020. It happened around 8:15 PM in Opa-locka at Northwest 27th Avenue and Northwest 135th Street. The fire rescue truck was in emergency mode and was responding to a local call. The truck collided with another vehicle. This set of a reaction that caused a chain of seven other cars to crash.
Six injuries were reported. Two had to be airlifted as trauma alerts to the nearby Jackson Memorial Hospital. One occupant of the fire rescue engine was taken to the hospital with injuries but they were not in critical condition. The accident was so large that police shut down all north and southbound lanes on Northwest 27th Avenue. The reason the fire truck collided with the car was unknown.
Two of the motorists involved in the car accident had to be extracted from their vehicles. This means that rescue teams had to use force to physically get them out of their cars. Often, this means they used cutting tools or a device called the jaws of life to help the individual who was trapped in their car. Ironically, these items are usually found on a fire truck.
Fire Apparatus– The Basics
In many of the news reports about the accident, the fire rescue truck was referred to as a fire apparatus. What exactly does this mean? In the most basic terms, a fire department apparatus is the most important element of fire management. One fire apparatus is the ubiquitous fire truck that is most commonly associated with firefighters and fire stations.
Fire trucks can be different sizes and colors. Some components are generally the same including ladders, sirens, horns, and lights that flash. They also have fire hoses and a water reserve. The water is often mixed with a fire-retardant foam that helps stop a spreading fire. The trucks also have increased power steering and heavy-duty suspension. Both of these help the truck make tight turns and help them function on narrow streets.
A truck is not the only thing that is classified as a fire rescue apparatus. Other things that are also called this include hydraulic platforms, floodlights, hooks, axes, cutting tools, and tarps. They also often include emergency equipment to assist rescued people like breathing devices, blankets, stretchers, and medical equipment and supplies. Any item that helps a firefighter or rescue worker save lives can be included in the definition of a fire rescue apparatus.
Emergency Vehicle Safety
When a disaster or accident happens, emergency personnel respond. They jump in their fire and rescue vehicles, turn on their siren, and race to the scene. Their fast speeds can be dangerous. They do not have to stop at red lights or stop signs. However, they do need to make sure the road is clear before going into an intersection.
Most states have laws that other drivers have to pull over and let the emergency vehicle pass. In Florida, it is the law to pull over and let emergency and law enforcement vehicles pass when they have their lights and sirens on. All pedestrians and other cars are required to yield to emergency service vehicles when they are responding to an emergency.
It is also law to move over a lane if an emergency or law enforcement vehicle is stopped on the side of the road. You must also move over for sanitation, utility, and tow truck vehicles. If you cannot move over because of traffic or you are on a two-lane road, then you must slow down. Your speed must be 20 mph less than the posted speed limit. If the speed limit is 20 mph, then you must go 5 mph until you have passed the vehicle. You face fines, fees, and points on your driving record if you are caught violating the move over law.
The purpose of these laws is to keep both car drivers and emergency workers safe. It also allows for the fire rescue trucks to arrive at their destination quickly and safely. If you do not follow this law, you may be stopping or delaying someone from getting life-saving services that they need.