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Bill would allow fire trucks to use lights to park

February 22, 2001

Bill would allow fire trucks to use lights to park



By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer


ANNAPOLIS - A Washington County firefighter testified before a Maryland General Assembly committee Wednesday that he should be allowed to use his emergency lights when backing into his station.

"It's a safety issue that protects emergency apparatus backing in and it protects the citizens," said Justin Mayhue, a Hagerstown firefighter who is also deputy chief of Long Meadow Volunteer Fire Co.

Mayhue was teaching a state firefighter training class when he realized that state law allows firefighters to use lights only when responding to an emergency.

Many firefighters turn on their lights when backing into their stations as a warning to motorists to give them the right-of-way, he told the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee.

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The bill would also make it clear that it's illegal to pass an emergency vehicle that is parking or backing into a station.

Firefighters have tried standing in the street to stop traffic, but have had some near-misses with impatient drivers, Mayhue said.

"If they're not going to stop for the fire truck, they're not going to stop for the person," he said.

Robert Ford, a Montgomery County firefighter, said he has seen motorists drive over a curb to get around a parking fire truck.

Robert Cumberland, administrator for the Washington County Fire and Rescue Association, also testified in favor of the bill.

Its sponsor in the House of Delegates, Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said he was glad to see the bill also has the support of the Maryland State Police and Maryland Attorney General's Office.

There were no opponents.

Shank agreed to file the bill after Mayhue brought the problem to his attention at a Washington County delegation public hearing in December.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, is sponsoring an identical bill in the Senate which has a hearing Tuesday in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

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