Fire truck driver: We are big and loud, but drivers often don't hear or see us

When attending calls, drivers often don't hear and sometimes don't see the fire engine looming in their rear view mirror, according to Aldis Hansens, a firefighter and driver with of the State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD). 

Both good sound insulation in cars and the use of telephones at the wheel are to blame for this, Hansens told Latvian Radio. Although the situation is improving somewhat, drivers on the road still often fail to give way to a fire truck even with its sirens on, Hansen said. 

"Usually when we go to fires, we're big and loud and visible, but what we often encounter is that drivers can't hear us and sometimes they can't see us," he admitted. 

In his opinion, the fact that drivers do not hear sirens is due to the very good sound insulation in the new cars, as well as loud music in the cabin, but in situations where the fire engine is not even seen, the drivers' inattention is to blame. 

"[Use of] phones are mostly to blame, and we can see that very well. Especially when we drive on the highway, where there is one lane in each direction, it is clearly visible that a person raises his eyes, because he had them down somewhere, then sees us and pulls aside," explained Hansen. 

"You should follow traffic rules and look in your mirrors every now and then," he added. 

The fire engine driver explained that in cases where the rescuers are going to a call where, for example, they need to remove a cat from a windowsill, he is unlikely to be in too much of a hurry and the attention of other drivers on the road will not be so important, but in cases where people's lives have to be saved, when firefighters are not given priority on the road, the work of rescuers and the arrival time are significantly affected. 

He urged drivers to be attentive but also patient and not to tailgate or overtake fire trucks unnecessarily.

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