Public Safety and Security Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5406

Title:

AN ACT PERMITTING PUBLIC SAFETY PERSONNEL TO USE BLUE LIGHTS.

Vote Date:

3/15/2016

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/1/2016

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

PS Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

To change the color of the lights currently used by members of volunteer ambulance associations when responding to an emergency scene from green to blue. This bill would eliminate the use of green lights, which ambulance association members are currently authorized to use under existing law.

Blue lights are currently used by volunteer firefighters and auxiliary fire company members. Currently blue light users must get a permit from the Chief of the pertinent association or team.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Acting Commissioner Dennis Murphy submitted written testimony indicating that the bill as proposed would expand the number of individuals permitted to use blue lights while responding to emergency situations, these are civilian vehicles not equipped with audible warning signals and they are not exempt from traffic laws. The DMV does not support an increase in the numbers of individuals permitted to use flashing lights.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Rep. Terri Wood submitted testimony indicating that in an emergency every second counts and giving volunteer first responders the courtesy of these blue lights can potentially aid in saving lives. Rep. Wood reminded the committee that blue lights have no legal bearing and motorists are not required to pull over for them, it is a courtesy and that a growing list of states allows EMS responders to use blue lights.

Andrew Wood an EMT from Darien states that currently volunteers with ambulance services use flashing green lights to respond to fire calls; however blue lights are far more effective at getting drivers attention.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Ted Schroll, Legislative Liaison for the CT State Firefighters Association submitted written testimony stating that blue lights have become a distinguishing factor for volunteer firefighters and they respectfully ask that the use of blue lights not be expanded to anyone outside that group.

Dave Clark, a volunteer with the Wethersfield Volunteer fire Department submitted written testimony strongly opposing the bill.

Frank Hilbert, Fire Chief of the Mystic Fire Department submitted written testimony indicating that it would be a disservice to volunteer firefighters who have had the right to use these lights for years, to allow other services use of blue lights.

Paul Fazzino, President of the Valley Shore Aid Association urged that no changes be made to existing statues regarding blue lights as any color lights serve as a courtesy and they do not give responders any more authority on the roads.

Bob Guthrie, Director of the National Volunteer Fire Council echoed Fazzinos remarks, asking that the law be kept as written.

Brian Allyn, Chief of the Canaan Fire Company also urged the committee to oppose the bill.

Chief Charles Stankye III retired Derby Police Department and Fire Departments submitted written testimony noting that changing the current law and expanding the scope of responders permitted to use blue lights would only cause confusion.

Donald Leary a volunteer firefighter in CT submitted testimony opposing the bill.

Retired Assistant Berlin Fire Chief, Chester J. Haber also submitted testimony opposing the bill.

Bristol Fire Chief Jay Kolakoski submitted testimony opposing the bill.

Reported by: Jamie Hobart

Date: 3/24/15