WEST HANTS, N.S. — While a winter storm surged through the province Jan. 4, Brooklyn firefighters were kept on their toes responding to multiple motor vehicle accidents.
But icy road conditions weren’t the only challenge for area firefighters — they faced several drivers not obeying traffic laws.
“It was a very challenging day responding,” said Brooklyn Fire Chief Andy McDade. “All of my drivers, on every call actually, made note of the inattentive drivers. They’re more paying attention to what’s in front of them.”
McDade said he witnessed several motorists not heeding the provincial legislation that requires vehicles to move over to allow first responders quick access to a scene, or to reduce speed and move over so that they may work safely on the highway.
“I noticed myself, in my personal vehicle responding, that a lot of people didn’t have the snow and ice cleared off their back windows so it was very hard for the emergency vehicles approaching,” said McDade. “Because everybody has such good insulated cars now, when they have the radio on and the windows rolled up, they don’t hear the sirens as well as they maybe should, and when they have the ice and snow on their back window, it actually covers the visual effect with the lights.”
Emergency vehicles with flashing lights and sirens have the right of way. Motorists are required to pull over to let the emergency responders pass. On the highway, motorists are required to reduce their speed to 60 kilometres per hour and pull into the furthest lane if safe to do so. That law has been in effect in Nova Scotia since 2010.
Brooklyn firefighters started the day off around noon with a garage fire on Panuke Road. The fire occurred in the two-bay garage of a backyard mechanic.
“The gentleman was doing some welding and ignited a little fire in the pit,” explained McDade.
“The homeowner had a lot of it knocked down upon our arrival.”
Later that afternoon, the fire department was called out to a motor vehicle accident (MVA) on Avondale Road and a crash near the Ellershouse exit on Highway 101.
“The concern out there is the traffic that’s supposed to slow down and move over… No body wanted to slow down and move over, even with the icy road conditions. It just seems like we’re an inconvenience to all the motorists out there,” said McDade.
They also attended three separate MVAs on Wentworth Road, near Wentworth Creek, within a span of about 10 minutes.
There were no injuries reported.
McDade said about 15 firefighters hung out at the station during the storm in order to provide fast response to calls.
“It was a heightened response,” said McDade. “When we have a storm, a big build up like that… everybody tries to give the extra little bit that they can.”
In 2017, the Brooklyn Fire Department responded to 446 calls, with 58 being in December.
Did you know?
Several emergency vehicles are included under the ‘move over’ traffic legislation. It is the law to pull over and allow the following vehicles to pass:
Fire department vehicles
Department of Natural Resources fire vehicles
Fire chiefs' or deputy fire chiefs' vehicles
Conservation officers' vehicles
Motor vehicle inspectors' vehicles
Motor carrier inspectors' vehicles
The fines for not moving over or not slowing to the designated speed range from $340.21 to $685.21 for a first offence.