Some interpretation help....flashing light laws

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Some interpretation help....flashing light laws

Postby jcat » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:36 pm

Not firearm related at all, but would like a couple extra sets of eyes on this.

I'm a volunteer firefighter, and live a little further than most of the other guys from my station. Because of this, responding from my house is not likely to be possible, since any other traffic on the road would make the trip too long to get to the station in time. We can't respond in our own vehicles to the scene, have to go to the station first.

This brings up the question of some lights. With the lights, chances are most people would get out of the way. I realize most won't, I also realize that I'm still held to standard traffic laws even when running to the station for a call. There is a form out there for a 'flashing light permit' that must be signed by the fire chief and police chief of the town. My confusion comes from these two statutes:

§ 31-24-31 Flashing lights – Forward viewing or rotary beam lights. – (a) Flashing lights are prohibited, except on an authorized emergency vehicle, school bus, snow removal equipment, or on any vehicle as a means for indicating a right or left turn. However, the requirements of § 31-24-33 shall be deemed to be satisfied if the vehicle is equipped with lamps at the front mounted at the same level, displaying simultaneously flashing white or amber lights, and at the rear mounted at the same level, and displaying simultaneously flashing red lights, all of which lights shall be visible from a distance of not less than five hundred feet (500').

(b) Forward viewing or rotating beam lights may be installed on and shall be restricted to the following categories of vehicles, and these lights shall be of color designated:

(1) Emergency response vehicles of any fire, rescue, or ambulance department, fire chiefs, assistant fire chiefs, deputy chiefs, captains; any privately owned vehicle of any authorized volunteer member of a fire, rescue, or ambulance department; emergency management agency directors, assistant directors, assistant medical examiners and/or forensic pathologists of the office of state medical examiners; rescue vehicles, emergency response vehicles of the department of environmental management and the division of state fire marshal; school buses; hospital emergency response vehicles; and two (2) American Red Cross disaster vehicles: Red, white and/or alternating flashing white;

(2) Wrecker trucks, service station trucks, state and town safety and maintenance vehicles; snowplows and tractors; light company trucks, telephone company trucks, water company trucks, oil company trucks, and other utilities' trucks; vehicles of television, radio and press photographers; rural mail carriers; all motor-propelled vehicles owned by the Northern Rhode Island REACT (radio emergency associated citizens team); all motor-propelled vehicles owned by or under contract to the Rhode Island department of transportation when on official state business; and vehicles marking the beginning and end of funeral processions: Amber, provided, however, that wrecker and transportation vehicles operated pursuant to a public utilities commission license, and roadside assistance vehicles of any type operated for that purpose by the American Automobile Association shall be permitted to use flashing amber lights at the front and rear of the vehicle, to be activated only in the course of providing assistance to or transportation for a disabled vehicle. A fee of twenty-five dollars ($25) shall be charged for the issuance of a flashing lights permit to every vehicle identified in this subsection, with the exception of flashing lights permits issued to state, town or fire district safety and maintenance vehicles, which shall not be charged a fee.

(3) Police units, state and local: Center rotating beam lights: Blue or red; Outboard mounted lights: Blue or red.

(4) Violations of this section are subject to fines enumerated in § 31-41.1-4.


That seems to say the only vehicles needing a flashing light permit are the ones running Amber lights, and that I would be well within the law to run say, a red and white dash light on my truck.

Now, there's another statute pertaining to the permits:

§ 31-23-11.1 Warning lights on private vehicles. – (a) A joint committee for volunteer permits, three (3) of whom shall be appointed by the president of the Rhode Island Association of Fire Chiefs and two (2) of whom shall be appointed by the president of the Rhode Island Association of Police Chiefs, shall take responsibility for the following actions regarding warning lights on privately owned vehicles:

(1) Develop procedures for the design, issuance, transfer and revocation of permit stickers;

(2) Develop rules and regulations for the use of warning lights;

(3) Develop minimum training standards for drivers;

(4) Develop procedures to govern the board's activities.

(b) The fire chief or commander of a municipal or non-profit fire, rescue, or ambulance department shall take responsibility for the following actions regarding warning lights on privately owned vehicles:

(1) Make application for permits to joint committee on volunteer permits;

(2) Maintain a listing of vehicle registrations and vehicle identification numbers for which warning lights are issued;

(3) Ensure that permits are removed from vehicles upon transfer of ownership;

(4) Post in a conspicuous place at all times, standard operating guidelines for the proper use of warning lights.

(c) The chief or commander of any fire, rescue, or ambulance department shall limit the use of warning lights to chief officers, deputy chiefs, assistant chiefs, captains, or other members deemed necessary and appropriate by written justification to the joint committee on volunteer permits.

(d) The fire, rescue, or ambulance department must own any warning lights issued by the fire chief or commander of the department.

(e) Each authorized volunteer member of a fire, rescue, or ambulance department must affix a permit sticker on any vehicle utilizing warning lights in accordance with rules and regulations developed by the joint committee on volunteer permits. Authorized members shall only utilize these warning lights within their department jurisdiction as the members respond to an emergency or to provide protection while parked at the scene of an emergency.


Which says that you have to have a permit in order to use the lights, and also kind of surprisingly, that the fire department must own any lights used by members, which seems pretty crazy to me.


So, in this case, which is the prevailing statute? The first statute doesn't put any kind of reference to the second statute in the section about what vehicles are allowed to run reds, but does stipulate that a permit must be obtained to run ambers. Seems gun laws aren't the only thing we're confused about in this state.
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Re: Some interpretation help....flashing light laws

Postby MM2(SS) » Thu Jan 29, 2015 7:20 pm

Jcat,

What Dept. I am a volunteer myself.
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Re: Some interpretation help....flashing light laws

Postby jcat » Thu Jan 29, 2015 7:34 pm

MM2(SS) wrote:Jcat,

What Dept. I am a volunteer myself.


PM sent.
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Re: Some interpretation help....flashing light laws

Postby jcat » Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:44 am

bump. anyone got any thoughts on this?
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Re: Some interpretation help....flashing light laws

Postby newportri » Wed Feb 11, 2015 3:33 am

You might want to contact the fire and police associations since they are the onces that are supposed to set up the committee.
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Re: Some interpretation help....flashing light laws

Postby jcat » Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:58 pm

newportri wrote:You might want to contact the fire and police associations since they are the onces that are supposed to set up the committee.


Well yeah, but it's pretty obvious what their answer would be. They'd say that I have to have a permit. But the statute governing the use of flashing lights says that the only ones needing permits are those running Amber flashing lights. It dictates which emergency vehicles are allowed to run red/white, which includes personal vehicles of any 'authorized volunteer member of fire, rescue, ambulance department'.

I guess the key is what does 31-24-31 mean by an 'authorized' member of the department.
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Re: Some interpretation help....flashing light laws

Postby newportri » Wed Feb 11, 2015 3:52 pm

My point was that they should be able to give you a permit since you seem to have a legitimate reason.
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Re: Some interpretation help....flashing light laws

Postby jcat » Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:53 pm

newportri wrote:My point was that they should be able to give you a permit since you seem to have a legitimate reason.



Gotcha. Yeah the tricky part would be getting my chief to sign off on it. I have no real reason to get it right now given that I'm still probationary but might be able to make a case later down the road for it.
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Re: Some interpretation help....flashing light laws

Postby JtnRI » Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:19 am

I used to volunteer, had one for my dept we only issued to command staff for safety reasons. Fill out the application and speak with a command staff member about it. I'd probably wait until your at least off probation. Make it a habit to try to respond as much as you can in the mean time, show initiative.

Heres the app: http://www.dmv.ri.gov/forms/enforcement/index.php

Also if you are looking i have some lights and a nice siren set up id be willing to sell. By law you have to have an audible signal as well as lights.
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