Edgewater Fire-Rescue personnel are just a little bit safer on the roads today thanks to a new regulation that recently went into effect and another that is being brought to the forefront again.
In November of 2008, the Federal Highway Administration implemented a new worker visibility rule (23CFR 634). The purpose of this regulation is to decrease the likelihood of worker fatalities or injuries caused by motor vehicles as well as construction vehicles and equipment while working within the right of way on Federal-aid highways. High visibility safety apparel such as personal protective safety clothing that are easily recognized in both daytime and nighttime hours are now required for workers on foot in the right of way on Federal-aid highways. These workers not only include construction workers, survey and utility crews but also law enforcement and fire personnel conducting emergency operations. Edgewater Fire-Rescue has placed approximately 35 compliant safety vests on all the department’s response vehicles. The vests are bright yellow in color with contrasting reflective striping. The vests are also equipped with “break away” Velcro tabs at the shoulders and sides in the event a firefighter gets entangled in something and must quickly remove the vest.
Florida's “Move over” law requires drivers to move over away from stopped emergency vehicles where ever possible or to slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit or to five mph when the speed limit is 20 mph or less. Drivers are also required to vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle or wrecker when driving on an interstate highway or other highway with two or more lanes traveling in the direction of the emergency vehicle or wrecker, except when otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer. Governor Jeb Bush signed the “Move Over Act”, passed during the 2002 session of the Florida Legislature, on May 1, 2002.
Acting Chief Stephen Cousins advises that “Drivers must remain aware of their surroundings by avoiding distractions like loud music and cell phone usage. Distracted drivers take longer to move over for emergency vehicles and run the risk of not seeing workers, including our firefighters, in the high visibility vests.
Information Prepared by: Lt. Jill Danigel, Fire Marshal