Fire chief raises alarm about loss of traffic light safety priority

Fire chief raises alarm about loss of traffic light safety priority

It’s a big concern for both the Kelowna and West Kelowna fire departments.

The Emergency Traffic Pre-emptive System has been broken since April and no one can say when it will be fixed.

The system has been in place for almost ten years ensuring Highway 97 traffic lights through the two cities change from red to green when a fire truck approaches.

“Using G-P-S, it tells the traffic signal how far away it is and how fast it’s travelling and basically asks it to turn the light green,” says West Kelowna fire chief Jason Broland.

Broland says with the system down, it could delay response times to emergency situations and also increase the potential for intersection crashes.

“Absolutely. The safety of the public and the safety of our staff is my number one concern. So having a system in place and working is critical to us. We’d really like it back as soon as possible.”

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The transportation ministry is unable to say when that will happen.

An email response to Global Okanagan News states: “The ministry appreciates the importance of these signals and has been actively working with the supplier and manufacturer to determine the cause of the issue since the malfunction occurred. Ministry staff expect to have more information about repair schedule in the next week or so.”

Until the repairs are made, Broland says fire truck drivers are being extra careful when approaching Highway 97 intersections.

“Every red light we have to stop at but we’d just prefer to have them green and not worry at all,” says Broland.