Students & Instructors
USFA, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice/National Institute of Justice, has begun a study of emergent topics in emergency vehicle and roadway operations safety to assist in the development and demonstration of best practices for the emergency services. The International Fire Service Training Association will conduct the study. Read the press release »
USFA and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), supported by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) / National Institute of Justice (NIJ), partnered on a project to publish Best Practices for Emergency Vehicle and Roadway Operations Safety. The document serves as a basic guide for all firefighters and law enforcement officers to improve their level of safety at work. It discusses training, policy development, education, and technology to enhance emergency vehicle and roadway safety operations.
Best Practices for Emergency Vehicle and Roadway Operations Safety expands on a previous IAFF/USFA training project: Improving Apparatus Response and Roadway Operational Safety in the Career Fire Service.
This partnership with the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA), supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice (NIJ), produced a study on emergency vehicle visibility and conspicuity, and expanded fire service efforts in these areas, to enhance emergency vehicle and roadway operations safety for firefighters, law enforcement officers, and other emergency responders.
Areas such as retroreflective striping and chevrons, high-visibility paint, built-in passive light, and other reflectors for law enforcement patrol vehicles, fire apparatus, ambulances and other EMS vehicles, and motorcycles were examined. Best practices in emergency vehicle conspicuity, including cutting edge international efforts, were reviewed.
IFSTA researched new technologies in the area of emergency vehicle conspicuity and visibility and collaborated on current USFA studies and projects in the areas of emergency warning lighting, traffic incident management, and roadway operations safety.
Taking recommendations from the Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative, USFA has initiated partnerships with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) to reduce the number of firefighters killed while responding to or returning from the emergency scene. Through these partnerships, materials were developed that directly target their constituencies - Chief Officers and Fire Department Leadership; the Career Fire Service, and the Volunteer Fire Service.
Through these partnerships with national organizations, USFA works in a unified effort to reduce the number of firefighters killed while responding to or returning from incidents, the cause of approximately 25 percent of firefighter fatalities.
One of the key issues discovered from the USFA Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative was the disorientation of motorists caused by the day and nighttime use of emergency warning lights. This finding led USFA to enter into a research partnership with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) on Non-Blinding Emergency Vehicle Warning Lighting Systems.
Supported by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs, USFA worked with SAE to study motorist disorientation caused by emergency warning lighting and lighting effects on normal, impaired, and drowsy drivers (also known as the "moth effect").
The second phase of the project continued to research how to effectively mitigate through design, technology, and operating practices the disorientation of motorists caused by emergency warning lights. Issues such as lighting design, flash rate, lighting color, and emergency vehicle visibility/conspicuity, as well as operational mitigation, i.e., reducing the amount of lighting used, etc., were researched.
This issue of color included the "traditional" red and white color lighting used by the fire service and EMS, as well as the use of yellow (typically used for construction and tow vehicle warning), blue, and other colors.
From this project, it was discovered that:
From this research, a nighttime field study of emergency warning lighting was conducted. Colors, intensity, and flash patterns of warning lamps were examined and the resulting desirable (conspicuity) and undesirable (glare) effects were documented. Findings from this operational study are detailed in the April 2007 report from the SAE - Effects of Warning Lamps on Pedestrian Visibility and Driver Behavior.
The next phase of the study enhanced previous research to examine colors and intensities of warning lamps that influence both positive (intended) and negative (unintended) effects of such lamps, in both daytime and nighttime lighting conditions. The overall focus of this effort was how emergency warning lamps can be designed to provide the most benefit for the safety of emergency vehicle operations.
Findings from this phase of the research are detailed in the October 2008 report from the SAE – Effects of Warning Lamp Color and Intensity on Driver Vision.
This long-term study was supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice and the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.
Research findings from this project will be forwarded to national-level consensus standards organizations, such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and others involved in the development of relevant/related standards. Additionally, SAE and their Emergency Warning Lighting and Devices Standard Committee may use the findings in the development of their own standards.
The Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative was a partnership effort of the USFA and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the DOT/Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office. The long-term goal of this project was to reduce the number of firefighters killed responding to and returning from emergencies and from being struck on the roadway. This project developed draft "best practices" guidelines, mitigation techniques, and technologies recommended by major national-level fire and emergency service trade associations. A series of pilot tests of these "best practices" were conducted in fire departments of various sizes and composition (career, combination, and volunteer), as well as in differing areas of the country.
The detailed recommendations from the Fire Service Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative are provided in a report that is available free of charge from the USFA Publications Center free of charge. This report covers areas regarding Standards and Standardized Operating Procedures (SOPs); Training; and Technology that could be utilized to enhance emergency vehicle operations safety as well as roadway safety operations of firefighters and other emergency responders.