Florence fire chief urges drivers to yield to emergency vehicles

Battalion Chief Anthony Fox with the West Florence Fire Department
Battalion Chief Anthony Fox with the West Florence Fire Department

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - First responders raise awareness to an issue they say is a serious problem in the Pee Dee area.

Move to the right and get out of the way, that's what law enforcement wants and needs drivers to do, after a rise in the number of people fail to yield to emergency vehicles.

"It's a serious problem, because when emergency vehicles are responding to emergencies, whether it's a medical call or fire, we need the motoring public's cooperation for us to get there," said Battalion Chief Anthony Fox with the West Florence Fire Department.

Chief Fox said during several recent incidents, drivers have failed to follow the rules of the road during emergency situations.

"You can see where I'm operating an emergency vehicle, lights and sirens and I go to make a right hand turn at an intersection and the car just didn't stop."

Fox is talking about an incident that took place just a couple of weeks ago, when a 12-acre fire ignited, just outside of the Town of Quinby.

"The responsibility of the driver … is when they see an emergency vehicle coming from behind them, pull to the right-hand side of the road and stop."

While WMBF News interviewed Chief Fox, an emergency call came in. With cameras rolling, WMBF News jumped in and went along for the ride.

"Another thing drivers need to be conscious of is that there may be more than one [emergency] vehicle going to a call," Fox added.

Fox said before drivers resume course, they need to be sure the road is clear all emergency personnel.

While on that ride-along, WMBF News cameras saw drivers doing the right things, moving to the right side of the road and stopping, which is required by law.

The same rules apply when drivers see an emergency, such as a structure fire or law enforcement officer who has someone pulled over. You are asked to move into the other lane for the safety of those officers.

"First responders have gotten killed or hurt by drivers who are approaching an emergency scene," Fox said.

Also, while the drivers on the road have a duty to first responders, those first responders have a duty to the public.

Every time the blue lights flash, be reminded. The people behind the wheel are supposed to be driving with due regard for public safety.

Copyright 2014 WMBF News. All rights reserved.