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Wednesday, March 30, 2011


This is the legal definition:Controlled intersections have traffic lights, yield signs or stop signs to control traffic.

Hopefully the Hartford Fire Department has a different definition. In a department directive issued by Hartford Fire Chief Edward Casares dated November 10, 2010 and e-mailed department wide on March 18, 2011, all Hartford Fire Department vehicles on emergency responses have been instructed
that "all emergency vehicles will stop at all controlled intersections".

The directive can be viewed below, but it seems pretty clear. There isn't any mention of stopping at intersections with a "red light" but instead says at all controlled intersections.

Hartford has seen a dramatic rise in fire fatalities since the beginning of this year. As most people are aware, seconds count in a fire situation and knowing that response times can drastically increase as fire apparatus stop at every controlled intersection is troubling to me as a Hartford resident, possibly depending on a quick response from HFD in a fire or medical situation.

Just consider this, these aren't small vehicles. A fire department driver estimated that it most likely would take a minimum of fifteen seconds, minimum, to stop a ladder or engine and start again and get up to speed when stopping at a "controlled intersection" as the directive states. That adds up, especially when apparatus is making a run on streets like Albany Avenue where you could have numerous "controlled intersections" along the main street and then turning onto a side street where every intersection with a stop sign is a "controlled intersection".

Let's just say you have six "controlled intersections on the Avenue with traffic lights then turn onto Garden Street and have five "controlled intersections" with stop signs. That is at least eleven mandatory stops according to Chief Casares's directive. Eleven stops at the estimated minimum of 15 seconds per stop adds up to almost an additional three minutes in that critical response time.

That extra three minutes could mean the difference between life or death in an emergency response.

The directive I would imagine was drafted in an effort to reduce apparatus accidents but I think it might just have the total opposite effect. Hartford is a city that is not known for drivers that adhere to motor vehicle law., I have seen drivers that pass fire apparatus because they move too slow rather than pull to the curb and stop for an emergency vehicle as required by law.

Imagine now the drivers that tailgate the fire apparatus going to an emergency call and the last thing they will expect is that vehicle to slow down and stop at an intersection with a green light. They won't understand that the driver of the apparatus is only complying with the mandatory directive, right up until the second they plow into the back of the apparatus making its mandatory stop "at all controlled intersections".

So for all those Hartford residents reading this posting, please carefully plan your escape routes and check those fire extinguishers, it might be a few minutes longer before the Hartford Fire Department will arrive when you really need them.


DD23 Department Emergency Non-Emergency & Discretionary Responses


Anonymous said...

As a retired firefighter I agree that time is important when responding to an emergency call, but keep in mind that drivers today are distracted by cell phones, music, txting, so it is better to come to a stop because the safety of the responding firefighters is just as important as it is to get to the scene safely. So until we can do a better job educating the public about the dangers of distracted driving, I support the Chief's efforts to keep our firefighters and citizens safe while sharing the road and I am also a Hartford resident.

peter brush said...

Do any other towns have such a policy? How about our cops and ambulances?

Anonymous said...

All I know is, I sure wouldn't want my house to be burning with my family inside while the trucks are stopping at every green light!!!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget our latest directive. Now drivers have to perform a complete circle check of the apparatus before every run. All compartment doors must be checked and all side and tail boards checked for loose items. Depending on the apparatus, that could add almost another minute to response times.

Anonymous said...

Connecticut General Statutes apply to ALL emergency vehicles. If Hartford Fire kills someone not stopping for a controlled intersection the City will pay millions. This applies to police as well as fire. Statutes 14-283(b)(2) Rights of emergency vehicles, “may proceed past any red light or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down or stopping to the extent necessary for the safe operation of such vehicle”

Anonymous said...

Just think beside the obvious delay in response times, the amount of additional fuel and wear on the brakes.