Pull over for the flashing green lights, say firefighters

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Three people transported to hospital after crash on County Road 42

On Ontario roads, green usually means go.

But in Tecumseh, the fire department is reminding motorists to pull over or yield if they see flashing green lights.

In Ontario, volunteer firefighters can place flashing green lights in their vehicles if they are responding to an emergency call. The lights are meant to signal to other motorists that they are travelling to an emergency. 

The law in Ontario does not require motorists to pull over for flashing green lights; it is voluntary. While only firefighters can use flashing green lights, they do not have any additional privileges under the Highway Traffic Act.

Motorists are only required to pull over and stop for emergency vehicles such as police cruisers or fire trucks. "It doesn't offer [firefighters] any preferential treatment," said Tecumseh fire chief Doug Pitre.

However the courtesy of pulling over when you see a firefighter's green lights can have a big impact.

"If people pull over it makes all the difference in the world," said volunteer firefighter Dan Redmond. 

Volunteer firefighters must first travel from their homes to the fire hall, so if traffic yields to them it can speed up response times.

"The guys that are coming from the outskirts with traffic being the way it is, it's tough to get here quick," added Redmond.

Flashing green lights for firefighters are approved in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.

The green lights have been used in parts of Essex County for around twenty years now, and took some getting used to by both the public and firefighters alike.

"It was a little strange," said Bob Hamilton, fire prevention officer in Tecumseh. "I've been around for a long time and when we first started them it was just a couple of little lights on there and people were going what is that?"

Hamilton added that many on the road are aware of what the green lights mean, and the fire department has huge appreciation. "Every second counts in this business," he said.

"It just allows us that courtesy to get there quicker. If we don't, there could be somebody's life at stake," said Hamilton.