As anyone who has worked with fire departments to review the proposed design of new buildings/developments will attest, they hate projects that require a fire truck to back up more than 50-75 feet. Why this is, has never been clearly explained to me, other than veiled references to safety concerns. Granted, there are unfortunate examples of deaths (usually other emergency personnel) being pinned between fire vehicles listed on the internet. Secondly, for lengthy hook and ladder trucks, I completely understand.
The problem is that planners, architects, and engineers are being expected tolerate altered site plans and building designs that essentially loop the entire facility with impervious hard surfaces so that firefighters won’t have to back up any fire truck. Even when pervious grass surfaces are proposed concerns have been raised because they look too much like a play area.
I, as much as the next person appreciate the valor and courage it takes to be a firefighter. But, somehow, that same bravery disappears when if comes to putting a fire truck into reverse. Frankly it has gotten so bad, that one has to wonder why manufacturers even bother with including reverse on the vehicles in the first place. Even today’s fire stations are designed and built as enormous drive-thru’s. Long gone are the days of backing into the station except in the most crowded inner city locations.
With modern rear camera technology, backing up a fire truck should be a cinch compared to the past when a spotter was necessary. Furthermore, such a technology combined with warning beeps should virtually eliminate the dangers. Will accidents still happen? Most certainly, but the same is true with adding more drives, lanes, curb cuts, and driveways around buildings. The key is to manage and minimize the risk while not being unreasonable in the application of safety protocols.
Hopefully, rear camera or similar autonomous vehicle technologies will resolve this problem sooner versus later and allow buildings to be designed for people once again.
Am I wrong or whining too much about this issue? What do you think?