OFM - 04-89-12
Public Fire Safety Guidelines
Use of Flashing Green Lights in Personal Vehicles
To make policy makers and fire officials aware of legislation and insurance issues governing the use of flashing green lights.
To inform policy makers and fire officials of the value of developing response protocols, department guidelines and/or policies concerning the appropriate use of flashing green lights. These guidelines / policies communicate to firefighters the importance of safe responses in personally owned vehicles using flashing green lights as protection against potentially serious insurance liability issues.
On December 9, 1994 legislation was enacted through an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act,1990 (HTA, 1990) that allows firefighters to display a flashing green light when responding to emergencies. The use of flashing green lights on vehicles is restricted to the Ontario fire service. Adoption of its use is strictly voluntary. There are several response considerations that users of such lights must be aware of.
The purpose of flashing green lights is to help other drivers recognize a firefighter en-route to an emergency and be courteous and yield the right-of-way. Municipal officials should consider conducting regular public awareness campaigns that inform the public of the purpose of flashing green lights through the use of public service announcements. Fire department officials must consider incorporating an informational training session for their firefighters on the proper use and limitations when using a flashing green light.
The fire service in conjunction with auto insurance companies recognizes the self-less and admirable service provided by firefighters throughout the Province and as such want to reduce the possibility of any misuse of the flashing green light when responding to emergencies.
Development of Operational Guideline on Flashing Green Lights:
Municipal fire service officials must consider the value of implementing an operational guideline for the use of flashing green lights. Fire service officials should ensure that every firefighter within the department is required to review such guidelines. Firefighters who demonstrate disrespect for the need to properly use flashing green lights should face some form of disciplinary action spelled out in an operational guideline. Risk management and potential liability should be at the forefront of their considerations.
Codes, Standards and Best Practices:
Codes, Standards and Best Practices resources available to assist in establishing local policy on this assessment are listed below. All are available at http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/ . Please feel free to copy and distribute this document. We ask that the document not be altered in any way, that the Office of the Fire Marshal be credited and that the documents be used for non-commercial purposes only.
- Highway Traffic Act, 1990
- Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997
- Insurance Act, 1990 Section 237 and Regulation 664
- SAE Standard J845: Optical Warning Devices for Authorized Emergency, Maintenance, and Service Vehicles, May 1997