Rural fire truck shines light to get you to move over

A shiny new toy for a rural fire department is designed to shine a light on first responder safety where some drivers aren’t expecting it.

Fire chief says drivers aren't expecting emergency vehicles in a recreational area

Small Alberta fire department shines big light on road safety

3 years ago
Duration 1:33
Redwood Meadows Fire has a new light that should catch driver's in the rear-view mirror and hopefully get them to move over

A shiny new toy for a rural fire department is designed to shine a light on first responder safety where some drivers aren't expecting it.

"With sound deadening in cars today, the optical warning helps more, and hopefully people will move out of the way better," said Rob Evans, fire chief at Redwood Meadows Emergency Services.

  • Watch the chief of a rural Alberta fire department explain how a new truck-mounted light carousel could make roads safer for everyone, in the video at the top of this story.
It's a 3-light carousel with 18 light-emitting diodes in each light, and it spins at more than 3 times per second. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Redwood Meadows is just a stone's throw from Bragg Creek and about 35 kilometres west of Calgary.

That optical warning is a three-light fixture mounted on the fire truck's grill. It spins really fast, up to 200 revolutions a minute, projecting a lot of light into the rear-view mirror of the vehicle ahead of it.

Each of those three lights has 18 light-emitting diodes — a far more powerful combination than its halogen predecessors, Evans said.

Rob Evans is the fire chief for Redwood Meadows. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

The first generation of this light carousel was patented in 1929. The company that made it changed hands a few times until the 1960s, when it went out of business.

After an estate sale, the patent was bought for $500 and production resurrected in the early 1970s.

Today, about 250 are sold every year, mostly to communities in the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, he said.

Here's what the light carousel looks like at rest. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

It serves more than one purpose.

"Not just the safety of our responders in the truck, but the safety of people on the road," Evans said.

"You come up to Bragg Creek and enjoy the trails, you are not necessarily thinking, like in the city, of emergency vehicles coming up behind you. All the noisemakers, the sirens and horns, they are great, but we need those visual cues as well. Cars today are so soundproof."

See that red light in the rear-view mirror? Redwood Meadows Fire is hoping you do. And get out of the way. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

With files from Monty Kruger.


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