Safe Driving- Intersection Hazards

Safe Driving- Intersection Hazards

The second leading cause of firefighter deaths nationwide is vehicle accidents! Most major crashes involving fire department vehicles occur at intersections. These accidents cause the most severe injuries, which may include death, and/or significant property damage. There are various factors that contribute to intersection accidents, inlcuding civilian vehicles that fail to yield the right-of-way. However, fire department members may also be responsible for intersection accidents. 

Recently, there have been multiple major intersection accidents involving Chicago Fire Department and civilian vehicles with their injuries. Fortunately, since all CFD members, were wearing their seat belts, none of their injuries were life threatening. 

As members of the Chicago Fire Department, it is our duty and responsibility to take all necessary precautions when acting in our roles as firefighters and EMS personnel. This includes utilizing defensive driving techniques, especially at intersections.


The Chicago Fire Department requires that an apparatus/vehicle driver make a complete stop:

  • When directed to stop by a law enforcement officer
  • At red traffic signals 
  • At stop signs
  • At negative right-of-way intersections
  • At blind intersections 
  • When the driver/operator cannot account for all lanes of traffic in an intersection
  • When encountering a stopped school bus with activated warning lights 
  • When pedestrians or any other intersection hazards are present 
  • At unguarded or activated railroad crossings

Additional safety precautions include:

  • All members should be properly seated and secured by seat safety belts.
  • The apparatus driver and the companny officer should work together as a team to check traffic.
  • The apparatus driver (and company officer) must account for all lanes of traffic, including the parking lane.
  • The apparatus driver should ensure that the right-of-way has been granted before entering the intersection. 
  • A second stop or even a third stop should be considered at intersections with obstructions.
  • A safe practice is to cover the brake on all green lights.
  • Do not assume the other driver will see your emergency lights or hear your siren or air horn. Remember, hearing impaired citizens have driver's licenses.
  • Stop signs pose a significant danger because a rising number of civilian vehicles either come to a rolling stop or do not stop at all.
  • Before entering an intersection, look left, look right, and look left again to ensure it is safe to proceed.
  • Take into consideration weather conditions (rain, snow, ice, black ice).
  • Slow down--operate apparatus at a safe and responsible speed.

It's more important to get on the scene safely, than it is to beat the other company in!

REMEMBER to be S.A.F.E. and W.A.I.T. at all intersections.

Stop at all intersections
Account for all vehicle, pedestrians and all lanes of traffic (including parking lane)
Foot over the break on all green lights
Eye contact with other driver(s)

Watch for arriving intersection traffic
Assume all drivers are hearing impaired
(eye) contact with other driver(s)
Time loss for stopping at a red light or a stop sign is only 2-3 seconds