'There is some confusion': The meaning behind flashing green lights
KITCHENER -- If you saw flashing green lights in someone's car, would you know what they mean, and what to do?
The Wilmot Fire Department wants everyone on the road to know the answer.
"We're asking drivers to pull over when they see the green light,” says Fire Prevention Officer Andrew Mechalko. “This allows us to get to the [fire] hall as quickly and safely as possible.”
The township is installing more street signs to educate drivers about green flashing lights.
“There is some confusion there,” says Wilmot volunteer firefighter Matt Pletz. “I think a lot of people are new to the area so they haven't seen what a rural responding firefighter looks like.”
Mechalko, who was a volunteer firefighter for decades before being hired, says Wilmot is volunteer-based like many rural departments.
“Full time department … they have a large tax base and they can afford full time firefighters,” he says. “Here in Wilmot it’s an economical option to go with a volunteer department. There are hundreds of volunteer departments throughout Ontario that use this green light as well.”
When a flashing green light is used, it means a volunteer firefighter has been paged. They are expected to drop everything and head to the fire hall, where they can gather their gear before loading up the fire trucks to head out to an emergency.
"We get calls at all hours of the day,” says Pletz. “Sometimes I'll be working, sometimes I'll be at the dinner table with my family.”
Volunteer firefighters can get called to emergency at any time of day, including holidays.
The three stations in Baden, New Hamburg and New Dundee have roughly 90 volunteer firefighters who play a crucial role in keeping the community safe.
“I drive a personal vehicle and I have [my green light] mounted right above my rearview mirror,” Pletz adds. “It's a cigarette lighter plug-in so I just turn it on when I need it.”
In emergencies like car crashes, water rescues and fires, every second counts.