‘It’s frustrating’: Drivers cut off, pass fire truck on QEII Hwy

The blaring sound of sirens and flashing light did little to alert all drivers on the QEII Highway that firefighters in Millet were trying to get to an emergency.

On Wednesday, Fire Capt. Trevor Palmer was frustrated by some of the drivers and decided to take a quick video from his cell phone – he was in the passenger seat.

“We already had vehicles passing, changing lanes, doing whatever in front of us – even though we were within 200 to 300 metres behind them. It’s like they’re oblivious to the fact that we’re there,” Palmer said. 

In the nine-second video, he can be heard saying how the fire truck could barely keep up with the flow of traffic.

He admits the video doesn’t fully demonstrate the severity of the issue because it was recorded when the left lane was clear. He said he wished he had continued recording to capture what happened next.

“We were cut off by a vehicle trying to pass another vehicle and were down to 60 km/hour,” he said.

When they were slowed down, he said it impeded on their ability to get to the emergency quickly.

Every second counts

The firefighters were responding to an outside fire on the west side of the QEII Highway near the Township Road 470 overpass, which turned out to be a fence post that caught on fire.

“Anytime there’s a grass fire, there’s a potential that it could grow. Luckily the winds had finally died down,” Palmer said.

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When the weather was dry and hot, .

The massive blaze destroyed a barn and six vehicles; there were no injuries or homes lost.

“In a matter of three to four minutes, that fire was doubling in size. If we can’t get to where we’re going, that changes the entire outlook of how we fight the fire or deal with the incident,” he said.

He said he to remind drivers to allow fire trucks through, and not to do any potentially dangerous manoeuvres like cutting them off or passing them.

“It makes our response easier because we feel a little safe: these are gigantic trucks and we’re travelling at a high rate of speed. All we want to do is get there safely so we can do our job.”