Brigade asks drivers to look out

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Photo Louis Klaassen D6039-08

Fire truck driver Craig Rowson sometimes faces a frustrating wait trying to leave the Whakatane Fire Station prompting a call for a stop-go traffic light system to be installed.

NEAR misses outside Whakatane Fire Station have chief fire officer Ken Clark amazed at the actions of passing motorists.

Mr Clark said the Commerce Street-Domain Road intersection could be tricky for fire trucks to enter when responding to a call-out.

“Our drivers have had to do be really careful as there have been a few near misses,” Mr Clark said. “We are responding to incidents, we don’t want to be a part of one.

“It is hard to understand how drivers do not see a big red truck with flashing lights. Some have even driven around the truck as it goes onto the road.”

NEED FOR CARE: Whakatane Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Ken Clark has a plea for motorists driving by the Commerce Street fire station. D6039-22

He said on one occasion, someone in a four-wheel-drive vehicle went up onto the footpath to go past the fire truck.

The brigade averaged nearly a callout per day last year and has responded to 271 incidents this year.

Mr Clark said the dangers of exiting the station had been well discussed.

“The traffic peaks at 3pm and 5pm, so there is a lot going on at that intersection. We have been constantly reminding drivers to be extra vigilant and that is largely why there hasn’t been an accident yet.

Brigade drivers were well trained to respond to incidents, but needed the public to also do their bit, he said. “We really just want them to be aware when they are approaching the station and that a fire truck might be coming out.”

Lights to control traffic is one idea suggested to help resolve the issue and Whakatane District Council public affairs manager Ross Boreham said the council’s transportation team would be happy to discuss the possibility of installing a stop-go traffic light system with the fire brigade.



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