New blue lights on emergency vehicles in Merrickville-Wolford

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Merrickville-Wolford’s emergency vehicles will be outfitted with new blue lights, in accordance with a change to the Highway Traffic Act regulations made late last year.

The change comes as the result of Bill 174, part of which dealt with an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act which allows all emergency vehicles to use a blue light as well as the traditional red ones. According to the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, the blue lights will improve fire fighter safety, “especially when conditions (i.e. snow, fog) limits motorists’ visibility.”

Merrickville-Wolford Fire Chief Mark Urquhart says the change is welcome in the Village’s fire department. He believes motorists are more likely to respond to a blue flashing light as it is historically associated with police cars who issue tickets for non-compliance. “People know there are consequences there,” he says.

Mark says the addition of the blue light is quite cost effective and just a matter of changing the lens on some of the lights that are already on the trucks. The department will be using both red and blue flashing lights to alert motorists and ask them to yield to emergency vehicles. “[They] should slow down and be prepared to stop or change lanes,” Mark says.

In municipalities that have a volunteer fire department, flashing green lights are used by some volunteer fire fighters if they are on a call. This does not allow them to disobey the rules of the road but alerts other drivers to allow them the right of way. “The hope is to allow them to get to the fire or station more quickly,” Mark says. The green light is used by some, but not all the volunteer fire fighters in Merrickville-Wolford as they are not supplied by the fire department and must be purchased by the fire fighter themselves.

Mark says motorists should always watch out for any colour flashing light on the road. Amber lights are used in construction zones to protect workers as they work along highways or major roads. Hazard lights are used by all vehicles to alert other drivers if they have to stop or travel more slowly on a busy road. “The motoring public should be aware of all flashing lights and respond appropriately,” Mark says.

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