Arrival at the Emergency

Vehicular Emergencies

Always position apparatus to protect the scene, patients, emergency personnel, and provide a protected work area. Where possible, angle apparatus at 45 degrees away from the curbside. This will direct motorist around the scene.  Apparatus positioning must also allow for adequate parking space for other fire apparatus (if needed), and a safe work area for emergency personnel.  Allow enough distance to prevent a moving vehicle from knocking your fire apparatus into the work areas.

At intersections, or where the incident may be near the middle of the street, two or more sides of the incident may need to be protected.  Block all exposed sides.

For first arriving engine companies where a charged hoseline may be needed, angle the engine so that the pump panel is "down stream," on the opposite side of on-coming traffic. This will protect the pump operator.

During daytime operations, leave all emergency lights on to provide warning to drivers.

For NIGHTTIME operations, turn OFF fire apparatus headlights.  This will help reduce the blinding effect to approaching vehicle traffic.

When parking apparatus to protect the scene, be sure to protect the work area also.

The area must be protected so that patients can be extricated, treated, moved about the scene, and loaded into Ambulances safely.

Make sure your emergency vehicle is completely stopped before anyone exits.

Always use the parking brake and appropriately chock the wheels of parked emergency vehicles.

Expressway and Thruway Operations

It is very important to remember when operating on expressways and thruways that the flow of traffic is a priority.  The flow must be maintained or serious rear-end accidents will occur.  In most cases, traffic flow can be maintained.  If traffic does come to a stop, warning must be placed prior to the backup.  Vehicles should be parked at an angle, on one side of the highway.  Cones should be used to move traffic where you want it to go.

  • Place traffic cones from the rear of apparatus toward approaching traffic.
  • Place traffic cones/ flares and retrieve them while facing traffic.
  • Place cones at 15 ft. intervals for approx. 75 ft. upstream for advance warning to drivers.

Listed below are benchmarks for Safe Parking of apparatus and emergency vehicles when operating in or near moving traffic.

  1. Always position first-arriving apparatus to protect the scene, patients, and emergency personnel.
  2. Initial apparatus placement should provide a work area protected from traffic approaching in at least one direction.
  3. Angle apparatus on the roadway with a "block to the left" or a "block to the right" to create a physical barrier between the crash scene and approaching traffic.
  4. Allow apparatus placement to slow approaching motorists and redirect them around the scene.
  5. Use fire apparatus to block at least one additional traffic lane more than that already obstructed by the crashed vehicle(s).
  6. When practical, position apparatus in such a manner as to protect the pump operator position from being exposed to approaching traffic.

Drivers shall avoid backing whenever possible.  Where backing is unavoidable, at least one spotter should be used.  If no spotter is available, the driver should dismount and walk completely around the apparatus to determine if obstructions are present before backing.  The emergency vehicle driver should also note all potential obstructions in the intended path of travel.

Return to  Maintaining control of your vehicle

Fire Line


Apparatus placement when operating on the highway.

Kolbs Home    To NYS Fire Departments    To Teaching and Training Courses    To Fire Reports    Email
To Kolb