Tuesday 19 January 2010
Blue Lights on Rural Appliances.
The RFBAQ strongly believes that Rural Fire Brigade Volunteers who respond to wildfire or road crash rescue on or alongside highways, motorways or major arterial roads should have the option of mounting both red and blue beacons to their appliances.
The switch activating the blue beacon would be separate to that already used for the red beacons, and would only be activated while needed.
The RFBAQ has been advocating for this change, and has been advised by the Commissioner QFRS that the Commissioner QPS is the only person who can grant written permission as per:
Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Vehicle Standards and Safety) Regulation 1999;
Division 19 - 104
(2) A vehicle, other than a police vehicle, must not be fitted with a blue light except with the written permission of the commissioner.
The RFBAQ has also had this reinforced in a letter dated 14/12/2009 from the QPS Commissioners Office where the Commissioner wrote:
“After careful consideration, I then resolved to support the Service’s present position that approval to use red and blue emergency lights will be granted only to primary response vehicles which respond to life and death situations, or situations where an accident is likely to cause death or serious injury to a person or persons.
As you may be aware, blue lights have traditionally been reserved for use by police vehicles; however, over time the use of blue lights have been extended to include Queensland Fire and Rescue Service and Queensland Ambulance Service vehicles for use, in conjunction with red lights, to facilitate their travel in emergency first-response circumstances. Red and blue lights used together have proved effective in both day and night environments. Importantly, the community have become conditioned to the association of red and blue lighting with emergency first-response vehicles and the necessity to afford these vehicle priority travel.”
As previously stated, the RFBAQ strongly believes that the brigades who are exposed to unsafe workplaces alongside highways, motorways or major arterial roads should be able to activate a blue beacon; for as the Commissioner of Police wrote “situations where an accident is likely to cause death or serious injury to a person or persons.”
Rural Operations (QFRS) have a duty of care to all employees and Volunteers, and this duty of care extends to the provision of a safe workplace.
Now that Rural Operations have been informed by the Commissioner of Police that blue beacons have been identified as a way of preventing serious injury or death, then Rural Operations, under their collective duty of care, must make progress towards implementing this practice.
For many years now, stationary QPS vehicles have been used to ensure the safety of road workers on highways, motorways and major arterial roads. These QPS vehicles are not emergency first-response vehicles needing priority travel but are fulfilling the role of preventing situations where an accident is likely to cause death or serious injury to road workers.
The RFBAQ realises that in many instances, recognised breaches of duty of care are not addressed until an incident forces change; as has happened to road workers.
Bearing this in mind, the RFBAQ recommends that any Rural Fire Brigade in Queensland who believes that red beacons are not providing the highest level of safety for Volunteer fire-fighters and who have need to respond to incidents on highways, motorways or major arterial roads, move to replace one red beacon cover with an opaque (white) beacon cover or add another beacon to the bar above the cab of your appliance. We recommend that this extra beacon be operated on a separate switch, and to add an opaque (white) beacon cover until Rural Operations (QFRS) again make representation to the Police Commissioner outlining the need for blue beacons and of the duty of care that QFRS has as an organisation not just to Urban, Auxiliary and Rural Operations staff; but also to Volunteers.
The RFBAQ believe that all Rural Fire Brigade vehicles are classified as emergency vehicles and therefore come under the exempt vehicle section of the legislation.
An emergency vehicle description is outlined in the Schedule 4 Dictionary of the “Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Vehicle Standards and Safety) Regulation 1999”
This means that it is lawful for these vehicles to have and use both red and white beacons as outlined in Division 19, section 104 of the same Regulation.
Below is the complete: Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Vehicle Standards and Safety) Regulation 1999;