By David Fleet
Atlas Twp.-M-15 is busy and dangerous—especially for emergency responders.
“Almost 20 percent of our calls are vehicle accident related,” said Ed Klimek, assistant chief, Atlas Township Fire Department. “Most of these accidents occur on M-15 which is one of the highest-traveled two-lane roads in Genesee County.”
Between 2004 and 2009 there have been 14 traffic fatalities on M-15 in Genesee County alone giving it the nickname “Death Alley” by locals.
“Because of the high volume of traffic, we prefer not to shut down roads completely when there is an accident, however, people still refuse to slow down and/or pay attention to responders,” he said. “Some are even taking photos to post online as they are driving by. As an officer I must put the safety of our department as well as police and ambulance crews first.”
To help protect responders as well as the victims of vehicle accidents, the Atlas Township Fire Department has submitted a request to purchase two LED Slow/Stop Signs, a set of six LED rechargeable strobe flares and two traffic guard portable speed bumps. These are on demand speed bumps are about the size of a spare tire and can be unrolled across the road before and just outside of the accident scene. They are highly visible and provide a safer emergency scene for everyone involved.
“If we receive a grant for this equipment, especially the speed bumps, it will help to slow down and control traffic as well as secure a safe scene,” said Klimek.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) has established a traffic safety grant which provides an opportunity for grant assistance to aid in the purchase of traffic safety equipment for law enforcement, public safety organizations and fire departments.
“The LED flares will help draw attention to the scene and the LED Stop/Slow signs will be more visible and help protect our firefighters while they are standing in the street holding them,” he said. “We still ask people driving by accident scenes to please slow down. We all have families waiting for us to come home.”
Between 2017-2018, 13 firefighters were killed when they were struck by vehicles while operating at crash scenes across the country.
By David Fleet