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Volunteer firefighters in Port au Port pushing for ability to change traffic lights to green

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Seeing first hand some of the problems volunteer firefighters have responding to an emergency, Wayne Deaves is continuing the push for flashing green lights on personal vehicles.

The deputy fire chief of the Port au Port Regional Volunteer Fire Department has been advocating this system for the province for several years now and feels he may be making some headway.

He said basically the flashing green light is a courtesy light making other drivers aware that this person is on his/her way to an emergency situation and not just someone who is curious.

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Deaves said there was a recent situation with a vehicle fire in Point au Mal where a volunteer firefighter had to actually get out of his vehicle to ask a driver who was stopped to give him room to get around.

He said this flashing green light doesn’t give the volunteer firefighter in his/her personal vehicle the right to drive faster than the speed limit, go through stop signs or red lights, but it does let other drivers know that person is a responder and heading to an emergency situation, where time is of the essence.

Deaves said there are all kinds of lights on vehicles, from red lights on police cars, ambulances and fire trucks indicating emergency vehicles; orange lights for caution on heavy equipment; and even purple flashing lights on funeral vehicles warning that it’s a slow moving vehicle.

He has heard of concerns about the green flashing light system being abused in Maine, U.S., but feels it wouldn’t be here in this province. His answer to that is for government to put in a policy that if it’s abused, the volunteers would lose the right.

Deaves said this system is being used in many other jurisdictions and thinks it can be valuable in this province.

He has an ally in John Finn, MHA for Stephenville – Port au Port, who said he has put his full support behind Deaves and the Port au Port Regional Fire Department in their quest to have this system implemented in the province.

“Anytime we can help first responders with safety, it’s something we (government) should consider,” he said.

Finn said firefighter Colby Chaisson brought this to him in 2017 and in the interim he has met with Deaves on it and brought it to the departments of municipal affairs and environment.

He has also had conversations about it with Duane Antle, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Firefighters Association and through conversations Antle and the association’s executive members are going to review this again.

Finn said with any changes of this nature, government would want the support of the provincial firefighters association and its members.

“I’m still open to the idea and I’ve had conversations with Minister Andrew Parsons, who as Minister of Municipal Affairs, is minister responsible for Fire and Emergency Services,” he said.

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