Laws and Codes governing Emergency Vehicles

NFPA Codes for Emergency Vehicles.

New York State Vehicle and Traffic Laws

Title 1 WORDS AND PHRASES DEFINED

Article 1 Words and phrases defined.

100-b. Ambulance.
Every motor vehicle designed, appropriately equipped and used for the purpose of carrying sick or injured persons by a person or entity registered or certified as an ambulance service by the department of health.

101. Authorized emergency vehicle.
Every ambulance, police vehicle or bicycle, correction vehicle, fire vehicle, civil defense emergency vehicle, emergency ambulance service vehicle, blood delivery vehicle, county emergency medical services vehicle, environmental emergency response vehicle, sanitation patrol vehicle, hazardous materials emergency vehicle and ordnance disposal vehicle of the armed forces of the United States.

109-b. County emergency medical services vehicle.
Every vehicle operated by a county emergency medical services coordinator or deputy county emergency medical services coordinator appointed pursuant to the provisions of section two hundred twenty-three-b of the county law, when operated in an official capacity while engaged in an emergency operation.

114-b. Emergency operation.
The operation, or parking, of an authorized emergency vehicle, when such vehicle is engaged in transporting a sick or injured person, transporting prisoners, delivering blood or blood products in a situation involving an imminent health risk, pursuing an actual or suspected violator of the law, or responding to, or working or assisting at the scene of an accident, disaster, police call, alarm of fire, actual or potential release of hazardous materials or other emergency. Emergency operation shall not include returning from such service.

115-a. Fire vehicle.
Every vehicle operated for fire service purposes owned and identified as being owned by the state, a public authority, a county, town, city, village or fire district, or a fire corporation subject to the provisions of subdivision (e) of section fourteen hundred two of the not-for-profit corporation law or a fire company as defined in section one hundred of the general municipal law.  Any of the following vehicles shall be fire vehicles only for the purpose of section one hundred one of this chapter:

  1. a vehicle operated by officials of the office of fire prevention and control in the department of state,
  2. a vehicle ordinarily operated by a chief or assistant chief of a fire department, or a county or deputy county fire coordinator, or county or assistant county fire marshall, or town or assistant town fire coordinator, or such vehicle when operated in an official capacity by or under the direction of such person, and
  3. a vehicle specially designed and equipped for firefighting purposes which is regularly used for firefighting purposes by a firefighting unit on property used for industrial, institutional or commercial purposes and which vehicle is owned by the owner or lessee of such property.

115-c. Emergency ambulance service vehicle.
An emergency ambulance service vehicle shall be defined as an appropriately equipped motor vehicle owned or operated by an ambulance service as defined in section three thousand one of the public health law and used for the purpose of transporting emergency medical personnel and equipment to sick or injured persons.

115-d. Environmental emergency response vehicle.
Every designated vehicle operated by an agency of the state or a political subdivision thereof, charged with the responsibility for environmental protection, while engaged in a response to a report of an emergency resulting from an actual or potential release, spill or leak of, or other exposure to, hazardous substances.

117-c. Hazardous materials emergency vehicle.
Every designated vehicle operated by a hazardous materials emergency response team created pursuant to section two hundred nine-y of the general municipal law specifically equipped for and used in response to reports of emergencies resulting from actual or potential releases, spills or leaks of, or other exposure to hazardous substances.

Title 7 - RULES OF THE ROAD

Article 23 - OBEDIENCE TO AND EFFECT OF TRAFFIC LAWS

1104 Authorized emergency vehicles.

(a) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle, when involved in an emergency operation, may exercise the privileges set forth in this section, but subject to the conditions herein stated.

(b) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle may:

  1. Stop, stand or park irrespective of the provisions of this title;
  2. Proceed past a steady red signal, a flashing red signal or a stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation;
  3. Exceed the maximum speed limits so long as he/she does not endanger life or property;
  4. Disregard regulations governing directions of movement or turning in specified directions.
  5. (c) Except for an authorized emergency vehicle operated as a police vehicle or bicycle, the exemptions herein granted to an authorized emergency vehicle shall apply only when audible signals are sounded from any said vehicle while in motion by bell, horn, siren, electronic device or exhaust whistle as may be reasonably necessary, and when the vehicle is equipped with at least one lighted lamp so that from any direction, under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of five hundred feet from such vehicle, at least one red light will be displayed and visible.

    (d) An authorized emergency vehicle operated as a police, sheriff or deputy sheriff vehicle may exceed the maximum speed limits for the purpose of calibrating such vehicles' speedometer. Notwithstanding any other law, rule or regulation to the contrary, a police, sheriff or deputy sheriff bicycle operated as an authorized emergency vehicle shall not be prohibited from using any sidewalk, highway, street or roadway during an emergency operation.

    (e) The foregoing provisions shall not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor shall such provisions protect the driver from the consequences of his reckless disregard for the safety of others.

    (f) Notwithstanding any other law, rule or regulation to the contrary, an ambulance operated in the course of an emergency shall not be prohibited from using any highway, street or roadway; provided, however, that an authority having jurisdiction over any such highway, street or roadway may specifically prohibit travel thereon by ambulances if such authority shall deem such travel to be extremely hazardous and would endanger patients being transported thereby.

Article 26 - RIGHT OF WAY.

1144 Operation of vehicles on approach of authorized emergency vehicles .

(a) Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle equipped with at least one lighted lamp exhibiting red light visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of five hundred feet to the front of such vehicle other than a police vehicle or bicycle when operated as an authorized emergency vehicle, and when audible signals are sounded from any said vehicle by siren, exhaust whistle, bell, air-horn or electronic equivalent;  the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right of way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway, or to either edge of a one-way roadway three or more lanes in width, clear of any intersection, and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, unless otherwise directed by a police officer.

(b) This section shall not operate to relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with reasonable care for all persons using the highway.

Article 33 - MISCELLANEOUS RULES

1217 Following emergency fire vehicles prohibited.

The driver of any vehicle other than one on official business shall not follow any authorized emergency fire vehicle in the same lane or an adjacent lane to the one being used by such fire vehicle at a distance closer than two hundred feet while such fire vehicle is displaying one or more red or combination red and white lights, or one white light which must be a revolving, rotating, flashing, oscillating or constantly moving light, nor shall such driver drive into or park his or her vehicle within the block or where there is no block, within one thousand feet of where such fire vehicle has stopped in answer to a fire alarm.

1218. Crossing fire hose.

No vehicle shall be driven over any unprotected hose of a fire department when laid down on any street or private driveway, to be used at any fire or alarm of fire, without the consent of the fire department official in command.

The use of sirens and warning lights does not automatically give the right-of-way to the emergency vehicle.  These devices simply request the right-of-way from other drivers, based on their awareness of the emergency vehicle presence.  Emergency vehicle drivers must make every possible effort to make their presence and intended actions known to other drivers, and must drive defensively to be prepared for the unexpected inappropriate actions of others.

The driver is responsible for safe and prudent operations of the emergency vehicle and for the safety of all passengers in the vehicle.

Fire Line

NFPA Standards

NFPA 1002-Fire Department Vehicle Driver/Operator Professional Qualifications.

NFPA 1500- Firefighter Occupational and Safety Standard.

Operational safety

NFPA 1500 Section 6.2

During emergency response, drivers of fire department vehicles shall bring the vehicle to a complete stop for any of the following:

  • Directed by a Law Enforcement Officer.
  • Red traffic lights.
  • Stop signs.
  • Cannot account for all lanes of traffic.
  • When other intersection hazards are present
  • When encountering a stopped school bus with flashing warning lights.
  • Drivers shall proceed through intersections only when the driver can account for all lanes of traffic in the intersection.