Whenever the Los Angeles City Fire Department implements changes,
Burbank Fire officials pay close attention.
After several accidents involving Los Angeles emergency vehicles
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
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
Although the Burbank Fire Department has no plans to enact a new
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.
“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