Project Green Light

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Tillsonburg Fire Services calls it Project Green Light.

Since 1990, when responding to emergencies, volunteer firefighters have been able to use flashing green lights on or in their vehicles. The flashing green strobe lights help drivers recognize firefighters en route to an emergency - encouraging them to be courteous and yield the right-of-way.

Project Green Light was initiated locally as a reminder to drivers. In the past two years, firefighters have put up signs in town asking people to 'Yield To Flashing Green Light - Firefighter Responding To Emergency.'

"We're happy the town got on board with getting these (signs) out," said volunteer firefighter Jason Bezaire. "The next step, I'd like to see it in the arena. Our arena is one of the only ones I've seen without it. Most arenas have a big banner behind the benches... and the arenas are always busy."

You will see the signs prominently displayed with the service club signage coming into town, including north Broadway and on Hwy 3, along with a smaller sign on Concession Street near the fire hall.

"We used to have the smaller (signs) here," said volunteer firefighter Jason Bezaire, near the RE/MAX office on Broadway. "But we found they weren't visible, so we went larger. Since we changed it to the larger one we noticed it's making a difference. More people are yielding when we're responding to a call."

In Tillsonburg, there are 32 volunteer firefighters. But there are also firefighters who live in Tillsonburg who respond to fires for neighbouring departments, like Brownsville and Courtland.

"You see the green lights a lot in this area," said Bezaire.

"For Jay and I, it's our third year in this Green Light Project," said volunteer firefighter Dave Metselaar. "It was just a case of getting the funding and trying to educate people."

"It's not a law yet," Bezaire noted. "It's a courtesy thing. If you see a green flashing light we're responding to a call, which may be your house. So just put your signal on, pull over. They can still 'go', just make way for us to get by."

"That would be a courteous thing to do," said Metselaar. "It (flashing green light) does not give us any more right to go faster - we still have to abide by the speed limit ourselves. So it's not like we can go 80 km/h down Broadway, we still have to abide by the speed limit."

"We still have to abide by the rules of the road," Bezaire nodded.

"If somebody pulls over and makes way for us, we don't have to worry about them turning somewhere, slamming their brakes on, it's just one more obstacle we don't have to concentrate on. Turn the signal on so we know what you're doing."

"Let's say we come up to Concession Street and Lisgar, and there could be potentially four or five cars ahead of us," said Metselaar, citing an example near the fire hall. "If those four or five cars were to pull over, it could get us to the hall just a little bit quicker. Seconds, but it could make a difference."

Getting firefighters to the fire hall quicker allows fire trucks to get out of the hall quicker.

The rules are different for fire department vehicles with flashing red lights and sirens, which can exceed posted speed limits when safe to do so, and can go through traffic lights if the red emergency lights are flashing, the siren is sounding, after coming to a complete stop.

Metselaar and Bezaire moved the smaller sign on Concession Street East, noting the original sign post had twisted a bit, to a more visible location closer to the hall last week.

"It gets lost from where we put it," said Metselaar. "When I come home from work every day, even I don't notice it. So I said to Jay, if we just move it down two more spots, I think it will be more visible.

"My thought was to have it closer to Broadway... and that would give people more of a chance to give us the courtesy... but it was just getting lost."

Two sign posts up the road, he said, "This will be awesome right here, I think." 



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