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Example of slowdown to emergency response

The Washington Post and the Montgomery County Gazette reported on a tragic fire in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Flashover occurred after the fire crews arrived but before all the children were out of the home. Speed humps were installed on routes to the house. Headlines and quotes from the newspaper articles follow an excerpt from Montgomery County's study reporting that speed humps slow fire trucks.

The Effects of Speed Humps and Traffic Circles
on Responding Fire-Rescue Apparatus in Montgomery County, MD

Fire & Rescue Commission, Montgomery County, MD, August 1997

On the speed hump course, where the units were attempting to maintain a constant speed of 25 mph, the average impact delay per hump was found to range between a high of 7.3 seconds for the Ladder Truck and a low of 2.8 seconds for the Aerial Tower. The higher delay is equivalent to responding from a station .05 mile per speed hump further away from the incident location along an unimpeded route. More importantly, the four vehicles averaged slightly less than 20 mph across the speed hump test route, about half the response cruising speed of 35-40 mph typically attained by fire-rescue vehicles on unimpeded roads. Should speed hump-impeded routes taken by responding units limit average speed to 20 mph, the amount of area they can serve within 5 minutes2 may drop to 1.3 linear miles (equivalent to 6.8 sq. mi. surrounding the station) versus the 2.0 linear miles (16 sq. mi.) served within 5 minutes along unimpeded routes whereby a cruising speed of 35-40 mph is attainable.

Gazette (Montgomery County, Maryland)

Fatal fire renews speed hump debate, 7-08-98
Most of the fire trucks, which came from Laytonsville, Gaithersburg, Rockville and Kensington, traveled along Victory Farm Drive, which has three speed humps, to reach the house. Saybrooke Oaks Boulevard, the other main access road into the Saybrooke community, has five humps.

Washington Post

Md. Boy, 13, Dies in Fire At Friend's Sleepover, 6-15-98
Arriving firefighters and police officers found a frantic Michael Chapman, 39, breaking in the basement's glass door with a concrete block and running into the heat and thick smoke to rescue one child while his wife lay in agony nearby, her back broken after jumping with her husband from their second-story bedroom.
Just after Michael Chapman apparently went back and pulled out a second child, fire Capt. Ty Stottlemeyer, 33, raced into the basement and rescued a third child as the basement "flashed over," exploding everywhere in fire, Resnick said.

3 in Blaze Still Listed In Critical, 6-16-98
Three Montgomery County boys remained in critical condition yesterday at Children's Hospital after a weekend fire that killed a fourth boy and gutted the basement of a Gaithersburg home, authorities said.

2nd Gaithersburg Boy Dies as Result of Fire. 6-17-98
A second youngster has died as a result of the Sunday morning fire that trapped five boys in the basement of a Gaithersburg home, Montgomery County fire officials said yesterday.

A Rescue Crew's Worst Nightmare, 6-18-98
...the ladder truck crew, whose job is to run into burning buildings and search for people, took over.

Access | Fire & EMS | Engineering

© Rada Project, 1998
July 14, 1998