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Sunday, August 30, 2009

2nd Addendum to the Fireman's Rant on Drivers

As I keep stewing about stuff, more bloggable rant material percolates to the surface.

This is the second follow-up to the original Fireman's Rant on Drivers. If you haven't read the rants yet, follow the above link and then also check out the first addendum, and then come back.

Several days ago, I was on a traffic control detail, assisting the Sheriff's Office. The absurdity of what happened has actually become so common that it didn't even register as worth bringing up here. That means that dumb people are doing this so often that it must be ranted about.

Thanks to Firecap5, who also suffered a recent similar event on the job, it clicked. If you have not already visited his blog, "Not trained, but we try hard!", do yourself a favor and add it to your list.

So here we go.

WHAT PART OF 'CLOSED' DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND? When my BRT is parked SIDEWAYS, blocking the ENTIRE road, and sits behind a line of EIGHT smoky traffic flares, you might want to entertain the notion that something is going on up there and that your presence - particularly if you bring your vehicle along - is not welcome.

When you see a line of cars stopped in the road, and flashing red lights and BRTs in their way, you have two intelligent choices: (1) Wait in line with them. (2) If safe to do so, turn around and go a different way.

Do not feign to be offended at my incredulous reaction to you if you instead choose the unlisted option (3): Pull into the empty lane for oncoming traffic and approach the roadblock because you're special. Do not entertain the hope that I will be sympathetic to your tantrum when you ask if the road is really closed and I look at you, the blocking BRT, the flares, the 'STOP' paddle in my hand, the line of cars managing to wait patiently, whatever activity is visible up the road in the way, and then back at you to tell you "yes, believe it or not, the road is closed". Do not be surprised if a member of the Sheriff's Office or City PD pulls you over for reckless driving after you turn around and peel out in anger after I answer your next question (well, can I go through anyway?) with uncontrolled cackling, managing a "no" between fits of laughter. Good Lord, I cannot believe you are allowed to vote! We shouldn't even be obligated to share our AIR with you!

FIRE LANES. NOT JUST FOR FIRES. It's actually a good idea to leave those open for all emergencies. If you are too ignorant to notice the sign that says NO PARKING FIRE LANE, those driving laws and standards people have gone the extra mile for you and painted the curb RED to bring to your attention that you should not park there.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, that you don't know what the fire lane is for. Remember, BRTs are heavy, large, and sometimes difficult to maneuver. When we are trying to get to a place where there might be, oh say, a fire, with, maybe people trapped or something, we'd prefer a nice and clear path into where the problem is. That's what the fire lane is for. We also use the fire lanes to get quick access to medical emergencies. So if your loved ones were trapped in the proverbial commercial fire while shopping, or suffering cardiac arrest at the restaurant, I suspect you'd be unhappy with someone slowing our response by parking in a fire lane right? And you won't do it anymore, either, right?

I'll give one pass on this, against my better judgement. IF you stay in your vehicle, and IF you do not turn off your engine, and IF you roll down your windows so you hear approaching sirens, and IF you pay full attention to your aurroundings 360° for approaching emergency vehicles not sounding sirens, and IF you are not otherwise blocking traffic, and IF you are not blocking visibility for pedestrians trying to spot traffic around you, then I am personally, just barely, conditionally OK with you briefly sitting in a fire lane. The moment you sense trouble, hear sirens, or see us or my EMS and/or law enforcement brethren, it is time to move. My brothers in blue are still quite likely to ticket you for this even if you followed all my rules, because it is still clearly illegal beyond any debate. Saying 'Grumpy said it was cool' is no defense. You know... sorry, I made it complicated. Scratch this whole paragraph. Just don't do it.

This also applies to parking in front of fire hydrants.

If your vehicle is in the way in a fire lane or other spot you should not park in our way, and the situation is dire, I may very likely push your vehicle out of the way with my BRT. If you're lucky, we might be able to work around (or through) your vehicle, but you'll have to wait until we're done. You will be responsible for the repair bill for your vehicle, the repair bill for the BRT, any and all traffic fines, and possibly be held liable for delays in delivering medical care or fire suppression/rescue.

I leave you with some examples. And yes, that sign on the upper right of the first picture reads NO PARKING FIRE LANE.

Just stay out of our way. Thanks.

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