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Fire response could be more silent

Jackson Bell

Whenever the Los Angeles City Fire Department implements changes,

Burbank Fire officials pay close attention.

After several accidents involving Los Angeles emergency vehicles

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and motorists, the L.A. department drafted rules stating engineers

who drive fire trucks and engines should not drive more than 10 mph

over the speed limit.

The new rules also require that if a truck or an engine is caught

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in traffic while responding to a call, the engineer must turn off the

sirens and wait until traffic clears. The new driving restrictions

are expected to take effect later this year.

“Anything [Los Angeles] does affects us to some degree,” Burbank

Fire Marshal Dave Starr said. “When a major policy change in a

neighboring department comes into effect, we keep a look out on

that.”

Although the Burbank Fire Department has no plans to enact a new

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driving policy and is not presently researching any state-of-the-art

technology, Fire Capt. Ron Bell said it uses a “common-sense policy.”

For example, he said, engineers don’t use horns if stuck in a

traffic jam and don’t drive at unsafe speeds.

Councilman Todd Campbell, a lifelong Burbank resident, said the

fire department is safe, and utilizes the proper precautions during

emergency dispatches. He doesn’t believe a policy change similar to

the one implemented by the L.A. Fire is needed.

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“Burbank and Los Angeles are like apples and oranges,” Campbell

said. “And I think that it is the worse traffic congestion in Los

Angeles that leads to poorer [engineer] driving.”

Starr added that, although emergency-vehicle accidents are

infrequent, civilian drivers who obstruct their path is the biggest

problem during dispatches. The fine for not yielding to emergency

vehicles is $320.

“When drivers maintain a 360-degree awareness of the road, they

are much better able to cope with emergency driver situations when

they occur,” he said.

The Glendale Fire Department, meanwhile, is not considering any

change to its driving policy, officials said.

Reporter Darleene Barrientos contributed to this report


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