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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Best Practices for Emergency Apparatuses in Parades—A Guest Blog by LMCIT Loss Control Field Consultant Troy Walsh

Guest Blogger/LMCIT Loss Control
Field Consultant Troy Walsh
Everyone loves fire trucks when they are in a parade. The public sees the bright shiny fire truck, polished chrome, flashing lights and sirens, and of course the candy. But what happens when someone complains about the siren being too loud, or if there is an emergency during the parade? How about the public, or even firefighters riding in or on the apparatus? These all have liability, and LMCIT has paid claims for parade-related issues. To avoid injury or liability claims, there are some best practices to follow.

Transporting to and from the parade:

  • The Fire Apparatus Operator (FAO) should be trained and approved by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to drive and operate the apparatus. 
  • Pre-trip inspections should be completed to ensure the apparatus is road worthy, and all standard lights, emergency lights, warning devices, and safety features are working. 
  • Make sure that apparatuses in the parade are considered “out-of-service.” Backup equipment not in the parade should have the responsibility to respond to emergencies. Parade apparatuses should stay “out-of-service” until they are clear of the parade route.
  • Fire apparatus that is going to or coming from a parade should follow all Minnesota state laws, including the use of seatbelts by everyone on board. 
  • Riding on the tailboard, sideboard, ladders, or in any unseated or unbelted position should be prohibited. 
  • Be sure not to exceed the approved occupancy for seat belts.

Participating in the parade:
  • Prior to the beginning of the parade, hold a “safety briefing” for all participants involved to be sure they understand the safety rules and parade route. 
  • The FAO shall adhere to all parade rules and guidelines.
  • Be sure to verify the rules for using emergency sirens and air horns with the parade organizers. Their use should be limited, if used at all. These types of loud sounds can startle or scare horses, dogs, and parade watchers, and the decibel level could damage hearing. 
  • The use of any emergency lights is allowed but should be used with caution. 
  • Personnel riding in the apparatus should be seated and should use the seat belts. There should be no riding on tailboard, sideboards, ladders, or in any unseated position.
  • No candy or objects should be thrown from the apparatus by occupants.
  • Distribution of candy or objects should be done by participants walking alongside of the apparatus. The walkers should maintain a line of sight with the FAO.
  • Have designated walkers beside each tire to ensure that bystanders and children do not move towards or under the apparatus, as children will sometimes leave the curb and quickly go into the street if they see a piece of candy.
Antique fire trucks may require extra precautions.

Other guidelines:
  • Operation of any apparatus while under the influence of alcohol or any illicit drugs is strictly prohibited and against Minnesota State Law.
  • If the fire apparatus must drive in reverse or an operation that limits visibility, the FAO must ensure that there is a “spotter” located in the blind-spots of the apparatus. (Parade staging areas tend to be crowded.)
  • Fire apparatus is not limited to engines, rescues, ladders, or tankers. It also includes command vehicles, utility vehicles, ATV’s, and specialty units. If seat belts are available, they are required to be worn by Minnesota State Law. 
  • Antique fire apparatuses typically do not have seatbelts installed so are not required to be worn, but the other safety guidelines still apply.
  • Anytime the apparatus is parked, “wheel chocks” should be used to keep the apparatus from accidentally rolling. 

What if there an accident with injuries? 
  • Immediately stop, and call 911.
  • Attend to anyone injured.
  • Notify the parade organizers as soon as possible. 

What if there is a property damage accident? 
  • Notify the parade organizer/committee as soon as possible.
  • If the damage is to another vehicle or property, be sure to notify law enforcement. 
  • Follow department policy on vehicle accidents. 

Parades are a great time to showcase your fire department and equipment. Make the most of this opportunity by ensuring you have a safe event.

Up next: Common Themes—A Snapshot of the Minnesota Safety Council Safety and Health Conference

Stay safe,

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