6-10 Traffic safety and control
Firefighters, in the course of their duties, may be exposed to the dangers of moving traffic while working on roadways.
It is important that all incident scenes on roadways be protected and contained in order to provide a safe work area for firefighters while minimizing the chance of secondary traffic incidents.
Actions for employers
- identify the hazards to which firefighters are exposed at these unplanned events
- implement a traffic safety and control program with appropriate health and safety measures and procedures to protect workers
- consult the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative when developing measures and procedures
- consult other emergency services and the road authority responsible for the serviced area when developing measures and procedures
Traffic safety and control program
A traffic safety and control program should include:
- response protocols which ensure that appropriate apparatus are dispatched to provide a safe work environment
- personal protective equipment requirements
- fire apparatus visibility requirements
Training should include:
- awareness of the dangers of working near moving traffic
- the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- the proper use of traffic safety equipment such as cones, flares, and traffic triangles
- the proper use of traffic control equipment such as signs, if firefighters are directed to control traffic
- vehicle blocking methods to create safe work areas
- familiarity with response protocols
Personal protective equipment
High visibility safety apparel should be worn by all firefighters who are:
- working near moving traffic
- controlling traffic by the use of traffic control stop or slow signs
- working outside of the area which is protected by apparatus and traffic safety equipment
PPE should meet the high visibility reflective requirements outlined in Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Standard Z96-15 High-visibility safety apparel.
Note: Bunker gear does not meet the reflectivity performance requirements of the standard.
Employers should develop, maintain and communicate procedures regarding traffic safety and control.
These procedures should include:
- the requirement to conduct a scene assessment and determine the potential hazards and level of risk
- the requirement for the incident commander to initiate traffic safety and control procedures for incidents near live traffic
- PPE use
- establishment of a traffic control zone to provide initial scene safety
- establishment of safe work areas in coordination with the police when possible, as only police are permitted to close a highway
- a deployment plan for responding fire apparatus
- use of traffic safety and control equipment to establish and maintain safe work areas
- use of the local roads authority to provide blocking equipment for prolonged incidents
Fire departments should reference Ministry of Transportation Book 7 requirements for unplanned events.
Applicable regulations and acts
- Occupational Health and Safety Act
- clause 25(2)(a) for providing information and instruction to a worker
- clause 25(2)(d) for making workers aware of hazards
- clause 25(2)(h) for taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers
For advice on selection, use, and care of high-visibility safety material and recommendations for hazard assessments, read CSA Standard Z96-15 High-visibility safety apparel
For standards for new fire apparatus, read NFPA 1901 Standard for automotive fire apparatus
For information and guidance on traffic control for unplanned events, read appendix 1 of the Ontario traffic manual book 7 temporary traffic control for unplanned events from the ministry of transportation.