CALEDONIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The Dutton Fire Department is protecting themselves as much as possible when tending to emergencies this year. They’ve purchased a pair of portable speed bumps that they believe will slow drivers down.
“People come through the scenes; they’re still moving too fast. There’s a lot of inattentiveness,” said Lt. Brett Holmes during an interview with FOX 17 on Wednesday. “We’re also dealing, even in some instances, with aggression. People are not pleased because they’re in a hurry to get where they’re going and we’re inconveniencing them.”
Lt. Holmes said that’s not the case. He, other firefighters, and emergency crews are trying to do their jobs, which sometimes gets hard when drivers ignore the orange cones and "slow down" signs placed around a scene.
“We’re using the early warning signs to try to get them to slow down. Our trucks are painted bright. They’re large. They’re strategically placed, but we’re still having near misses,” Lt. Holmes said. “We’re still having firefighters that are coming within inches of serious or grievous injuries.”
Lt. Holmes said each one cost $700, and they came out of the department's budget. However, it protects everyone who works crash and fire scenes.
“We’re working on the scenes with paramedics, police officers that are doing the investigations, our tow truck drivers that are working to clear the debris and restore traffic patterns to normal flow, and even utility workers when we have affected lines, poles, and traffic signals,” Lt. Holmes said. “Certainly it’s an investment we made, but it benefits all of us.”
Lt. Holmes said it’s all about lowering the odds for injury or death because that hasn’t always been the case. In June 2017, Comstock Fire Chief Ed Switalski was killed while tending to a crash late one night on I-94 in Kalamazoo County. A driver going over 90 mph hit him from behind and killed him. The driver was later sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Lt. Holmes said Public Safety knows there’s many risks to their job. However, they’d like drivers to help be as safe as possible.
“We do know that people are trying to get to places. They’re trying to get to work. They’re trying to get home. They’re trying to get their kids from school, and we’re sensitive to that need. But, we’re also performing a high service here. We’re trying to treat injured people. We’re trying to deliver service to people that are in their darkest hour,” Lt. Holmes said. “But, ultimately what it comes down to is we need to have safe scenes.”