The RFS re-issued an Operational Brief in September 2016 (original brief was dated July 2015) that has generated some interesting concern and debate amongst it’s volunteer workforce.
The content of the September 2016 brief is as follows:
In July 2015, an Operational Brief was issued to members regarding the use of U-Turn and cross-over facilities on motorways and highways in NSW RFS vehicles.
A recent court matter, relating to a fatal accident on a motorway north of Sydney and involving a NSW RFS member driving a tanker, has lead to uncertainty about emergency vehicles legally using these facilities.
While urgent clarification is sought on this matter, all Service members are now directed that cross-over points or emergency U-Turn bays on motorways or highways are not to be used. This includes where the facility is marked for the use of emergency service vehicles.
More information about this is below.
The court case related to a fatal accident involving a NSW RFS tanker which occurred in October 2012.
During proceedings, a number of technical points of law have been raised which has lead to some uncertainty about emergency vehicles using U-Turn and cross-over facilities.
The NSW RFS is currently seeking urgent legal advice on this matter to ensure clarity for our members.
While this advice is being sought, to avoid any uncertainty, Service members are directed that crossover points or emergency U-turn bays on motorways or highways are not to be used. This applies to incident responses and normal traffic conditions, and even where a cross-over point is marked for use by emergency services.
NSW RFS vehicles should travel to the next exit ramp or point on the motorway and re-enter the roadway.
The only exceptions to this should be where a road is closed or operating under controlled conditions, such as traffic is being directed by police.
This directive remains in place until further advised and replaces the advice provided to members in an Operational Brief in July 2015.
The NSW RFS is continuing to work with Roads & Maritime Services and other emergency services in seeking guidance and clarity on this matter as a matter of urgency.
Rob Rogers AFSM
Some of the comments made by volunteers include:
I’m reading the book KOKODA at the moment – nothing has changed in 75 years, the people running the show are living in another World.
Do they ‘really’ expect us to drive past the burning vehicle and it’s occupants, proceed down the road for 20km or so , turn round and come back?
What a load of BS!, they are just covering their butts!
My take on this is that should I be responding to a potentially life threatening incident and can (by using such a crossing) shorten the response time to the incident I will do so every time.
In my opinion there are sections of our Act that I believe would allow us to do so. Having taken such a decision I would however, take pains to ensure that I did not endanger any other road users. I would suggest the status quo will be retained once the legal side of it is clarified and common sense will again prevail.
Feel free to add your comments below