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This is Maddening!!!

Don’t you hate when you’re sitting at an intersection patiently waiting your turn and here comes the Fire Department – red lights and sirens blaring, passing through the light and then…they turn it all off just after getting through the intersection.  Errrrr! Now YOU missed the light! Something needs to be done about those guys!

We occasionally have someone stop into Fire Headquarters to complain about this.


Here is the rest of the story.  Whenever the fire department responds and uses lights and sirens, we do so based on the best information we have at that moment. Frequently, all we know is that a fire or a fire alarm has been reported and it is our job to respond as quickly and safely as we possibly can. If it is a multi-truck response, we try to stay together in convoy so passing through intersections is done all at once. This is safer for us and the public we share the road with.


It is not uncommon for us to receive updated information while in route that will cause us to downgrade our response.  This information may come from an alarm company, some other official already on the scene, or from one of our own responding units from a different station. Sometimes this happens as we pass through an intersection.  With more than 5,000 emergency responses each year, it just happens.  With new information that leads to a downgrade in response, we turn off our lights and sirens…and either continue with the “flow of traffic” or we “cancel and return to station” depending on the situation.


All that said, I can see how someone might think we are abusing our right of way privileges. Sitting in traffic is stressful and no one wants to miss a light. We are fortunate in Bowling Green to have a complex system of traffic pre-emption devices at many of our busiest intersections.  That adds another element to the mix of emotions when the light seems to be controlled by us. Many times it is. Light pre-emption adds greatly to the safety of everyone.


Now to the point – please bear with us as we work to respond in the safest way possible even though it may be frustrating to you as a driver.   And rest assured, we never use our emergency  lights and sirens to pass through an intersection unless we are actively responding to a reported emergency.  Not only is it against state law, it is against all professional rules for operating an emergency vehicle. All Bowling Green Firefighters undergo extensive apparatus/driver training and must pass skills test annually, including knowledge of all rules of the road for responders.

Hopefully, next time you see the BGFD out doing their thing in traffic you’ll better understand the why we do what we do.

6 Responses to “This Is Maddening ~ Fire Chief Greg Johnson”

  1. Guest says:

    Who complains about an emergency vehicle trying to get through traffic, regardless of the severity of the emergency or not?? Bet people wouldn’t complain if it was them or someone they loved in an emergency situation. Thank you to the fire department for all they do

  2. Jan Colbert says:

    Thank you for responding to emergencies in the fastest way possible. We appreciate your professional and fast and efficient responses!! And especially, we appreciate you putting YOUR lives on the line for ours! THANK you and bless you this day and every day.

  3. Firefighter Avery says:

    I’ve been a firefighter in Hart Co. Ky for 8+yrs. It’s clean cut, and it’s a State Law. Yield to emergency vehicles means pull to the right when you can do so safely. When you see Blue, Red and some times Clear, green or yellow flashing or rotating lights. It means there is a reason to let them pass, someone need help from them. It’s funny sometimes that when you need medical, law, rescue or fire, you praise them. But when it’s not for you and you are delayed or have to wait in traffic, complaints are made like this. We do this cause we care for everyone, we aren’t just running the roads to be doing it. So we ask that when you see us responding, please allow us to make our way through and help those in need. Thank you!

    Firefighter Avery @ Hardyville FD

  4. Thank you ALL very much for what you do for all of us! You risk your lives daily to help others. We should be thanking all the Emergency Management personnel not complaining about stop lights!

  5. Sarah Ingram says:

    It is so sad to think there are selfish, ignorant people in our world that have the audacity to actually write a comment like this in a print publication. The Daily News should have thrown this comment or “opinion” in the trash as soon as they read it.

  6. Karen Darnell says:

    I know several firemen and when I see a fire truck is don’t get frustrated I bow my head and pray for them and who they are rescuing

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