The city of Ballwin has agreed to allow the Metro West Fire Protection District to install, operate and maintain a priority control signal system for the traffic light at the New Ballwin and Reinke roads intersection to help speed the district’s response to fire and emergency medical calls.
In a nutshell, the agreement allows certain Metro West vehicles to be equipped with devices that signal the traffic light to turn green in their favor as they approach the intersection.
According to Robert Jones, city attorney, the agreement is a common sense approach designed to get first responders where they are needed as quickly as possible while safeguarding other motorists and pedestrians.
A review of the document shows steps and precautions, that most people might not think about, which are built into how the system is implemented and actually works. For example:
• Only fire trucks, EMS vehicles and battalion chief vehicles will be equipped with priority control preemption emitters. Vehicles assigned to the fire chief, assistant chief, fire marshal and other vehicles will not be equipped with the devices.
• Before a priority control preemption emitter is installed on any approved responder vehicle, the fire district must deliver the device to the city’s maintenance facility, where it’s programmed with an identification code unique to that vehicle. Metro West must provide a full description, including the make, model, license or unit number and vehicle identification number, along with a digital photo or the car or truck.
• All information about vehicles with the emitters must be submitted to the city annually.
• Details about any replacement vehicle must be provided when it goes into service.
• The emitter must be hard-wired so that it operates only when the vehicle’s flashing lights are on. An automatic shutoff must be attached to the parking brake or gear selector.
• Metro West must install a special card in the traffic light controller cabinet to record and identify the identification codes used to preempt the traffic signal.
• Metro West is responsible for all costs of obtaining, installing and maintaining all equipment that’s part of the priority control system. And, all plans related to the project must receive city approval.
• Because the priority control system could cause unexpected effects on traffic, Metro West also must provide the city with a current insurance certificate with required liability limits.
The six-page agreement also contains a variety of other provisions designed to safeguard the system’s operation and deal with possible instances of misuse and non-compliance.
Metro West has similar agreements with the Missouri Department of Transportation or St. Louis County for traffic signals at a number of other locations. Included are lights on Manchester, Clarkson and Clayton roads.
The equipment Metro West uses is provided by St. Paul, Minn.-based General Traffic Technologies under the brand name Opticom™. The company claims some 70,000 installations in more than 2,500 communities.
Source: News Magazine Network (January 31, 2014)