...or the ambulance or rescue truck.

While I always thought that society as a whole was comprised of terrible drivers, I had no idea how bad it actually was until I joined the rescue squad. Wanna piss off the people who stop your house from burning down or take you to the hospital? Try one of these:

1) Roll up the windows, turn the rap up as loud as it will go, and remove all mirrors from your vehicle. Why would you ever need to look behind you, after all?

2) When you notice an emergency vehicle closing quickly from behind, slam on the brakes and stop in the middle of your lane. This sudden deceleration is very helpful to the guy driving the truck with thousands of gallons of water, especially on a windy two lane road when another car is coming from the opposite direction.

3) If you don't think you can handle sliding to a halt, jerk the wheel to the left as hard as you can. Not only will the sudden manuver scare the hell out of the fire truck crew, who thinks you're out of control, it will effectively block the route the truck was planning to take (emergency vehicles always pass on the left in any sane part of this country). Especially useful if traffic is stopped on the interstate, and the truck is coming up the shoulder.

4) As soon as the shiny red truck passes you, immediately swerve into his wake and follow closely. Other cars will get out of his way, and you won't have to wait in traffic. He'll like it even more when another idiot cuts him off and you run your econobox under the back of his truck and give him another exciting task.

5) When approaching an intersection when you have the green and there's an illuminated fire truck on the cross street slowing down to make sure people are clearing the intersection, slow down to 5 miles per hour and proceed through the intersection, staring at the apparatus all the way. I wonder why he's got all those lights turned on? And why is he laying on the airhorn?

6) On/near a fire scene, the road will likely be blocked. If you don't want to detour, just drive around the parked cop cars and fire trucks. Likely, you'll see some large diameter fire hoses running across the street. Even if the nearest firefighter yells at you to stop, keep going. Even though you drive an econobox, surely it will clear the hose, and running over it couldn't hurt it anyway. When your car gets stuck and the catalytic converter burns through the hose containing water at 120 psi and water gushes everywhere, get a sheepish look on your face, and tell everyone you didn't know it would happen.

7) Finally, if a fire truck passes you at high speed with the lights and siren going, then turns them all off and slows down because another unit got to the scene already and told him to cancel, run the guy off the road, curse him, and flip him off. After all, he's probably just messing with you.

Thanksgiving Day, 2000. Just after 3 a.m. we get a call for a fire at an apartment complex. We are the second truck on scene, and it is fully involved. An entire section, just ripping with flames. The first engine lays supply line from the hydrant, which is 4 inch LDH, across the parking lot to the building on fire. After about 45 minutes of fighting, we get the fire knocked down. Thankfully the building was well-constructed, with an excellent fire wall between units, so we were able to contain the losses to only four apartments.

Our team had just been moved into rehab to cool down a bit, when I noticed a resident walking towards her vehicle, a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Behind her parking space was the main supply hose, which can not be run over under any circumstance. But I estimated she had enough room to back out and go out the side entrance without hitting the hose.

(Side Note: This hose was our main supply line, and though the main fire had been knocked down, we still had crews working inside)

So she proceeds to back out of her parking space (running over the hose once), pull forward (running over it a second time), swing left and pull out the main entrance (running over it a third time). Luckily we had the streets blocked by Sheriff's Deputies, so she couldn't immediately leave. I sprinted after her, in full gear, and yelled at the cop to stop her. The sight of a firefighter running at him got his attention, and he stopped her. I explained to him what had just happened, and he kindly pulled her out of the vehicle and wrote her three tickets totalling nearly $200 for failure to yield to the directons of a firefighter, and other charges. I asked her why she did that. She told me it was because she was late for work. *sigh*



Moral of the story? Emergency crews do things on scenes on purpose. The big fire truck is blocking the road because we have a helicopter about to land there. We have a section of sidewalk roped off because part of the building could collapse there at anytime. All we ask is that you let us do our jobs. If you want to watch what is going on, feel free to watch from a safe distance, out of our way. Don't come up to us and offer tips about how you would do it if you were still with your department. Pay attention to the scene, and think about how your actions could put you or the crews on scene in danger.

And don't run over fire hose.

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