September 26, 2019 - Status of Flashing Green Light Programs in Northumberland County

ALNWICK/HALDIMAND

Fire Chief Mark Diminie indicated that A/H does not have signs, but he is supportive of the idea.  Deputy Mayor Gail Latchford stated that signs were expensive, but would refer it to the CAO for the 2020 budget. (Please note that the 8 signs purchased by Cramahe cost $378.96) Latchford went on to say that one also needs to add $50.00 per sign for posts.

It is our opinion that this money would be well spent to help inform visitors and new members in the community about the meaning of the Flashing Green Light.  Although not required by law, hopefully it would encourage people to yield to the volunteer firefighters responding to an emergency page.

BRIGHTON

These are the signs used in Brightom

Volunteer Firefighter

Fire Chief Rick Caddick reports that six signs have been installed at strategic locations on roads entering Brighton.

CRAMAHE

These are the signs that will be used in Cramahe

Cramahe FF Sign 

Fire Chief Tim Burgess says that firefighters bought these signs out of their Firefighter Association’s (benevolent) fund.  In particular, they had performed a difficult water rescue down at Loughbreeze Beach (Bed and Breakfast) and the grateful owners donated $250 to the fund. This money was in turn put toward the purchase of eight (8) signs, at a cost of $378.96. Currently Chief Burgess is working with Operations Manager Jeff Hoskin on getting the signs installed at strategic locations in the Township.  

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP

The fire prevention officer Shelley Leger indicated that they do not currently have these signs up in Hamilton Township and there are no immediate plans to put up signs.  They will revisit the matter of educating the public on the flashing green lights using their Facebook page.  While it is better than nothing, their Facebook page won’t necessarily reach the right people.

PORT HOPE

These are the signs installed in Port Hope

Port Hope Firefighter Sign

Fire Chief Ryan Edgar indicated that Port Hope put up 12 Flashing Green Light signs in 2017.  The signs are posted on all major routes into the Municipality.  Chief Edgar had the manufacturer add the word “Please” to the sign to reflect the fact that there is no formal requirement for motorists to yield.  He went on to make another interesting comment.  In his capacity as a volunteer firefighter in his home town, he has chosen to remove the green flashing lights from his personal vehicle.  He found that the lights often confused other motorist which made passing them even worse.  Left unsaid was the fact that some motorists don’t even respond properly to the red and blue flashing lights of emergency vehicles.

TRENT HILLS

Fire Chief Tim Blake reports that Trent Hills is currently using a billboard type of sign located at the intersection of County Road 29 and County Road 30 to educate people about the flashing green lights.  In the future this sign will be replaced by a number of the smaller metal signs similar to those being used in Brighton and Quinte West.

Background

Rural municipalities in Northumberland County typically have a volunteer fire service.  Firefighters are not stationed at a Fire Hall or Station and need to travel to the fire halls in their personal vehicles.  They use a green flashing light to warn other motoriist of their need to get to the fire hall.  In the early days the flashing green light was used when firefighters were responding to fires in their personal vehicles. Between firefighters getting into accidents (insurance liability) and the health & safety of the contaminated clothing in cars, not many departments currently allow their firefighters to respond directly to emergency locations in their personal vehicles. 

At present the flashing green light does not afford volunteer firefighters any special privileges or exemptions under the Highway Traffic Act but it makes sense for other motorists to pull over and yield the right of way when they see the flashing green light.  It helps the firefighter get to the fire station in a more timely fashion.  The sooner they can get to an emergency scene - the better the outcome.  See the video of a house fire below.

The problem is that many people do not recognize the significance of the flashing green lights.  As a result many municipalities are posting signs to inform residents and visitors of the significance of the green flashing light.

Here are some examples of the signs and the campaigns to inform the public.

This one is currently used in Quinte West and Brighton.  It will also be used in Trent Hills

Volunteer Firefighter

This image is being used as part of an eduactional campaign.

Volunteer Firefighter 02

This Municipality adds an information banner to the Municipality's boundary signs

Green Light campaign

In this day and age it is essential that rural municipalities take steps to inform residents and visitors of the meaning of the flashing green light along with the expectation that people will yield to the vehicle displaying the light.  Time is of the essence in emergency situations - minutes matter.

This is a video of a house fire that started in the garage.  It is roughly ten minutes long.  Note the catastrophic damage that occured in that time.  This is why we must minimize the response time of firefighters as much as possible.  Big House Fire

This is a post that Gritt Koehl put up on our Facebook page 2019-09-25 Facebook Post on Green Flashing Lights 

This is a brief video put together by the Lacombe Fire Department in Alberta explaining what a flashing green light means Lacombe FD Video On Flashing Green Lights