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Drivers fail to pull over for fire truck on QEII Hwy: 'It's frustrating'
Published Thursday, June 14, 2018 12:34PM MDT
Last Updated Friday, June 15, 2018 12:40PM MDT
The blaring sound of sirens and flashing light did little to alert all drivers on the QEII Highway that firefighters in Millet were trying to get to an emergency.
On Wednesday, Fire Capt. Trevor Palmer was frustrated by some of the drivers and decided to take a quick video from his cell phone – he was in the passenger seat.
“We already had vehicles passing, changing lanes, doing whatever in front of us – even though we were within 200 to 300 metres behind them. It’s like they’re oblivious to the fact that we’re there,” Palmer said.
In the nine-second video, he can be heard saying how the fire truck could barely keep up with the flow of traffic.
He admits the video doesn’t fully demonstrate the severity of the issue because it was recorded when the left lane was clear. He said he wished he had continued recording to capture what happened next.
“We were cut off by a vehicle trying to pass another vehicle and were down to 60 km/hour,” he said.
When they were slowed down, he said it impeded on their ability to get to the emergency quickly.
Every second counts
The firefighters were responding to an outside fire on the west side of the QEII Highway near the Township Road 470 overpass, which turned out to be a fence post that caught on fire.
“Anytime there’s a grass fire, there’s a potential that it could grow. Luckily the winds had finally died down,” Palmer said.
Photo Credit: @milthodgins
When the weather was dry and hot, a grass fire in early May threatened the Town of Millet.
The massive blaze destroyed a barn and six vehicles; there were no injuries or homes lost.
“In a matter of three to four minutes, that fire was doubling in size. If we can’t get to where we’re going, that changes the entire outlook of how we fight the fire or deal with the incident,” he said.
He said he shared the video to remind drivers to allow fire trucks through, and not to do any potentially dangerous manoeuvres like cutting them off or passing them.
“It makes our response easier because we feel a little safe: these are gigantic trucks and we’re travelling at a high rate of speed. All we want to do is get there safely so we can do our job.”
Pull to the right and stop
When Cpl. Laurel Scott watched Palmer’s video, she said it resonated with her because she’s been in similar situations.
Scott said when people fail to move over, it impacts the safety of many people: the person waiting for the first responder, the users of the road, and the people responding to the emergency.
“It’s about everybody’s safety that you pull over and stop,” she said. “This means pull over to the curb off the road, as far as you can pull over – and stop. You have to stop and remained stop until all the emergency vehicles have passed you.”
The penalty for failing to pull over and stop is a $233 fine.