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Monday, May 2, 2016

Officials concerned with incidents

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jim Smith
* Fire, Police chiefs say violation of work scenes a risk to worker safety

After firefighters' safety and equipment was jeopardized during a recent house fire, officials voiced concern with The Brazil Times.

"It's really gotten out of hand in the past year," Brazil City Fire Department Chief Jim Smith said about incidents he has witnessed at fire scenes. "If something doesn't change, I'm afraid someone is going to get killed."

Instead of focusing on fighting fires, working to help accident victims or trying to block flooded roads for safety reasons during the recent flooding, Smith said firefighters have found themselves dodging vehicles to get out of the way of impatient motorists or stopping what they were dispatched to do to protect the equipment.

"You run over a hose, the water shuts off immediately," Smith said. "We know when it happens. Until the pressure is removed from the hose, we lose the water, which takes away precious seconds."

If the hose is ruptured, an extreme situation has the potential to only get worse. Running over a fire hose, according to Smith, isn't like running over a garden hose.

"That risks lives," Smith said about the loss of water during a structure fire. "If that happened, a person could possibly be held responsible in civil court for the damages if the house fire couldn't be put out because of the hose being destroyed. The civil ramifications of doing something like that are potentially disastrous, something you would have to deal with the rest of your life."

It's a frustrating situation for Smith.

"People just don't think about the 'what ifs.'" Smith said. "What if that were my house they were trying to save, or what if the firefighter was a family member now put in danger by an impatient person who couldn't wait or be responsible about detouring around the scene."

Smith said the equipment is more expensive then people think, with a fire truck costing more than $250,000 and special fire hoses starting at $300 per 50-foot section.

"People just don't seem to respect a fire truck with its lights flashing anymore," Smith said. "We try really hard to not block roadways or inconvenience traffic, but we have got to have room to work in."

On May 11, Smith said things "got out of hand" while the fire department was working a house fire at 208 Sycamore Street. He estimates approximately 20 motorists -- whether "rubber neckers or impatient drivers" -- put emergency personnel in danger.

"While officers from the Brazil City Police Department were there to work traffic, things were OK," Smith said. "But when they were dispatched to another call, things just got nuts. Just because you don't see smoke and flames, doesn't necessarily mean the emergency is over."

Apparently, without police officers on the scene, some impatient motorists took it upon themselves to ignore the emergency situation and drove through neighboring yards, including the one at St. Vincent Clay Hospital, to get around fire trucks with emergency lights flashing. Firefighters had to move the hoses to protect them from being run over.

"One firefighter was almost hit as he stepped off the truck," Smith said. "That's my greatest fear, that one of my guys will be hit by someone not paying attention."

It's not the first time the department has had problems with motorists.

"During the recent floods, we tried to block off high-water areas," Smith said. "There were times when motorists just looked at us, at the fire truck with its lights on and then at the water, before driving into it anyway. Then, of all things, they got angry when we wouldn't jeopardize damaging our equipment to pull them out."

Smith said this type of rude behavior is not just happening in Brazil.

"All fire departments, and really all types of emergency responders, are dealing with this behavior," Smith said. "When we are dispatched, it's a rapid deployment situation."

Emergency responders are focused on the task at hand, putting out a fire or working with an accident situation.

Larry Pierce
"It's supposed to be a secure scene," Smith said. "We shouldn't have to worry about being run over."

Brazil City Police Chief Larry Pierce agreed.

"People behaving like this, well they're just making a dangerous situation even worse," Pierce said. "It's bad enough firefighters have to worry about going into a burning building, they shouldn't have to worry about something like this. They should have, and deserve, an expectation of safety while doing their jobs."

According to Pierce, if caught, motorists violating the scene of an "emergency incident" or interfering with a "dispatched firefighter" while in the course of his duty could face potential jail time and fines.

Indiana Code 35-44-4-5 defines a person who is not a firefighter who knowingly or intentionally refuses to leave an emergency incident area immediately after being requested to do so by a firefighter or law enforcement officer commits a Class A misdemeanor,.

IC 35-44-4-8 defines a person who knowingly or intentionally obstructs or interferes with a firefighter performing or attempting to perform the firefighter's emergency functions or duties as a firefighter commits Obstructing a Firefighter, a Class A misdemeanor.

A conviction or guilty plea of a Class A misdemeanor is potentially punishable with up to one year in jail and $5,000 in fines.

According to the type of damages done by motorists choosing to drive "off road" to get around the scene, or if causing damage to fire equipment, officials could also charge trespassing, criminal mischief or other miscellaneous charges.

If a motorist should cause injury to a firefighter or someone else, the charges could develop into felonies.

"A person might think they've gotten away with doing something like this," Pierce said, "but if the vehicle can be identified by license plate or other means of evidence, an officer could locate the driver later."

Officials hope to bring about public awareness to the growing problem.

"I don't know if getting this information out to the public is going to do any good. People are just in a big hurry anymore," Smith said. "I would just like to ask everyone to please slow down and respect emergency personnel, whether their on the way to an emergency or already on the scene. Remember, the emergency they are responding to may involve your property or loved ones."

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I sit and listen to a police scanner of these things happening and I must wonder, do people get their driver's license and promptly forget everything in the driver's manual?

Flashing lights must now mean drive around the equipment or vehicle instead of avoid going near the scene or passing close by because you're putting someone at risk.

Police vehicles, fire equipment, school buses, highway equipment and everything that has a flashing light on it doesn't have the flashing lights just to look pretty, they are a visual warning that something is going on what warrants special consideration and caution!

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Thu, May 26, 2011, at 2:08 AM

A simple solution. Arrest someone now.I thought the firemen had the legal right to make an arrest when there was a reason.If not give them the right.

-- Posted by Dennnisll on Thu, May 26, 2011, at 6:37 AM

Fire men cannot make a traffic arrest. But, there should be at least 1 or 2 law enforcement on each of those scenes too. That is who can control incidents like these and even make an example of a few to let people know it can't be tolerated.

-- Posted by Oldtown on Thu, May 26, 2011, at 7:30 AM

Is citizen arrest still in existence?

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Thu, May 26, 2011, at 7:56 AM

This is just crazy. The rudeness and impatience of people grows worse daily. I hate driving in this town. One thing that is dangerous as well is at the 40 and 59 intersection. The amount of people using this intersection as a 6 lane road is a disaster waiting to happen. There are turning lanes in the middle, the outside part of the road is NOT a turning lane. I have been sitting in traffic waiting to turn north onto 59 with my signal on and have people fly by on the right side of my car almost clipping my mirror so they can turn on red. What is wrong with you morons!!?

-- Posted by Jolly on Thu, May 26, 2011, at 8:28 AM

I was at the ambulance station on Jackson Street last week and the ambulance was returning from a run. The ambulance turned on their flashing red strobe lights to back into the garage and some idiot literaly drove up on the sidewalk and around the ambulance rather than waiting 10 seconds.

-- Posted by Daryl Andrews on Thu, May 26, 2011, at 8:48 AM

Here's a thought (extreme I know and a bit tongue in cheek) but get some of those stop strips and lay them out around the scene and then let the impatient idiots drive through, maybe then they'll get the message.

-- Posted by Mr. History on Thu, May 26, 2011, at 9:57 AM

When I was a Paramedic, years ago, me and my crew were working a large accident on I-74. Traffic both ways was closed, but that did not stop a guy from driving all the way around the stopped cars up to the accident scene. He pulled along side of my partner and I, rolled down his window, and asked "What happened?". My partner, without missing a beat replied "Shark attack." The driver of the car simply nodded and said "Oh ok", then drove away. We joked a lot of years about that incident.

I know the story was sort of off topic, but the point is that some people have no regard for authority, and will do almost anything just to be nosey. The lack of common sense in some people is astounding.

-- Posted by olmedic on Thu, May 26, 2011, at 10:16 AM

This is going to take all of us to at least try to lessen the amount of idiotic things that people do. If you see somebody doing something they shouldn't, examples are plentiful above, get their license numbers and call 911 or the other number. Maybe not 911 but the business lines at both the Sheriff's Department, 446-2535, and the BPD, 446-2211. We all seem to have a camera on our phones....take a picture to back up your claim. Maybe this will help stop some of these jackbutts from putting our rescue personnel in danger. Any thoughts?

-- Posted by Proud of My Country on Thu, May 26, 2011, at 11:10 AM

I couldn't agree more with the comments posted. I particularly like the "stop sticks" suggestion by Mr. HISTORY! ; )

It's ridiculous how many times I've pulled over (after hearing a siren) and been passed by someone "more important" than the ambulance/fire truck/police.

Passing a funeral procession is a HUGE issue in town. OMG! I've seen people pass on a 2-lane road! It makes me so mad, I'll get in the unoccupied lane and pace the last car (if I'm going that way) preventing anyone from passing.

Something definitely needs to be done to protect the firemen, ambulances, police and funeral processions. DO IT NOW!

-- Posted by Emmes on Thu, May 26, 2011, at 11:36 AM

I think if you check the law it is not illegal to drive on when approaching a funeral procession. It is commonly done in some areas of the country as tradition but in some locations they are thinking that it is a dangerous practice because some stop and others don't, depending upon where they are from. It is not taught in BMV drivers study book so unless you know about the local tradition, you have no idea what is going on when people stop for funerals. Not even sure it's legal for funeral vehicles to have flashing lights as it's obviously not an emergency.

On other hand, the sirens and flashing lights of emergency vehicles under law do require you to pull over as someone needs to get somewhere and someone's life may depend on it being fast.

The deceased in the hearse is not an emergency and with some people stopping and others not, it can become hazardous for those still alive.

Either people need to obey the law and NOT stop for funerals or the law needs to be changed. Can't have it both ways

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Thu, May 26, 2011, at 10:16 PM

I am on a VFD. We have had to bang a few cars that have all but run over traffic control officers. As a rule, if I can get them stopped; I let them sit while everyone else goes. Then we talk about courtesy and being patient. It's absolutely AMAZING.

-- Posted by FatDuckLittlePuddle on Fri, May 27, 2011, at 2:50 AM

It is call respect. Some think only of their self and I don't think respect need to be a law.

-- Posted by donalde on Fri, May 27, 2011, at 7:37 AM

Irritates me to no end when I see people who don't or won't stop for emergency vehicles or like they were talking about the ones who get too inpatient and just drive around. You know those people are sitting at home and reading this cringing because they know they were idiots to do it in the first place. Life is too short to be in such a hurry and who knows next time one of these inpatient ones will be the cause of someone innocent losing their life.

-- Posted by Meadow31 on Fri, May 27, 2011, at 9:49 AM

Jcn13513, I agree with your comment, "There is a HUGE lack of RESPECT in this town!!!!!". They don't respect law enforcement, first responders or each other.

If I can digress, additionally, they lack PRIDE about their town, their property and their neighbor's property. This lack of respect and pride has translated into a town with a very poor IMAGE. I challenge anyone to drive the streets and just look at the way people care (or don't) for their homes and yards. The vehicles on blocks (for months), unkept yards, plastic tarps on roofs (again, for months), trash, mowers, boats, trailers and a chimney (yes a chimney for going on a year now). And what about the farm animals, in pens, smelling up the neighborhood. not to mention of the health violation.

Question: Are the "elected" members of the City Council afraid of offending someone? They have not passed or amended meaningful city codes, in a timely manner, to prevent such violations? They are supposed to have the City's needs at interest not just a few people. We need city codes to be either enforced or enacted codes to bring PRIDE and a favorable IMAGE back to our town. Enacting codes about Stop signs and votes on tax abatements are important but don't directly affect the city image .

I hope the new mayor discontinues the practice of tearing up "select" traffic and code citations, which diminishes our officer's authority.

Ok.... back to the issue at hand. Bottom line, DON'T GO AROUND OR BLOCK AN EMERGENCY VEHICLE, unless directed to do so by someone directing traffic and RESPECT a funeral procession. Enough said. CAB

-- Posted by CAB (Concerns About Brazil) on Fri, May 27, 2011, at 10:51 AM

TO the people who dont pull over ,for a funeral,are about the most ignorant,disrespectful,ungreatful,people,ive ever seen,GOD thats so sad..Well we have 2funerals to go to in the week here.Ill be thinking of you Moore. And for to disrespectful people who dont pull over, all I can say is shame on you.Wonder if are when you go to a funeral,,.and you see cars passing you by..wonder if you think the same thing...And to all the ones who do thank you ..

-- Posted by twmkmforever@yahoo.com on Fri, May 27, 2011, at 5:07 PM

Maybe we need to remind student drivers of this.And don't forget school buses. Stop for the school buses and yes all four lanes need to stop.

-- Posted by Paper Planes on Sat, May 28, 2011, at 1:44 AM

I am on a local VFD & 1st responder & being in a very rural area with a major HWY that we work accidents on we deal with this behavior all the time. Recently we had 2 accidents in 1 day and dealing with the traffic was just ridiculous and completly upsetting.With the 2nd incident being the most severe people were just rude and obnoxious.

Although I have to give a BIG thanks to all the volunteers of over 30 people who came up to the scene to help out,(this list included doctors&nurses from IU, and even a military flight nurse & all the responding agencies)who in a chaotic and very life threatening scene did their jobs without complaint & the utmost urgency possible!

HOWEVER those that were caught up in the traffic were rude and placed those doing their jobs in danger. We all worked as quickly as we could to get people transported to medical facilities and get the accident cleared away to open back up the road. I personally saw cars turning around in the middle of the highway and flooring it back in the opposite direction almost hitting a fellow FF directing traffic to an alternate route that this guy blew past to begin with.

I also witnessed people parking their cars right in the middle of the road and refusing to move when necessary emergency personel was trying to get to the scene causing a bottle neck that no one could get around,then when law enforcment had to intervene they got angry and cussed and screamed.

I saw several cars trying to follow the wrecker through the scene again blocking the road way and causing other traffic issues.

NOT all people who were in the traffic were rude, many asked if everyone was alright or what happened out of concern and I'm sure some was just plain ole "nosiness" but it was with concern.

HOWEVER its those impatient ones that just don't care. Their time is more precious than those that of the injured or responding.

People i understand we all have places to go and things to do, but what we fail to remember is that there is nothing more precious than that of a human life.

Those that are injured in car accidents,has a fire in their home, or is having a medical emergency the time is of the essence. No baseball game, trade show, college party, shopping, or anything else is worth the loss of life.

Instead of seeing the lights of emergency vehicle (police, search and rescue, fire, ambulance, first responders) and thinking "oh crap I'm going to be late" and making it about you, why not stop for a moment and think of your fellow man and just give a moment of thought or prayer and think "I hope everyone is okay, oh no please get everyone out safely".

We have become a society about "ourselves" an we only think of emergencies when it only affects us directly. I can guarantee you wouldn't think so calously if it was your husband, wife, daughter,son or any other family member direct or indirect that was in harms way or yourself.


Slow down-whatever you are trying to get to will still be there.

Think-because your actions will harm you as well as others if you don't.

Observe-and respect the laws, if not you're going to jail.

Patience-is what will save yours and others lives...

WE do this because we care for our community and our neighbors...WE serve to protect you and our families. We are not here to keep you from your life we are here to make sure you have a life to live and get to safety.

-- Posted by cheeziette on Sat, May 28, 2011, at 11:04 AM

As far as law enforcement, fire trucks, ambulances and all emergency responders it is the law to pull over for them; however it is not the law but respect to pull over for a funeral. I was an adult and was attending my first funeral when I noticed the traffic pulling over. I had no idea why until it was explained to me that it was out of respect. I thought it was wonderful that people were doing that. I have pulled over every since. I guess what I am trying to say is that many young people have no idea that they should pull over for a funeral. So maybe when teenagers get their license parents should explain this to them. Respect, like manners, have to be taught. So before we get too mad at people that pass funerals try to remember some of them may not even know they should be doing it.

-- Posted by lifehasitsmoments on Sat, May 28, 2011, at 6:51 PM

I don't see the problem with showing respect for the dead .. since most of us can't seem to show it to the living.

-- Posted by Emmes on Fri, Jun 3, 2011, at 4:26 PM

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