N.J. Gov. Signs Bill to Aid Volunteer Emergency Responders Answering Accident Calls

September 9, 2005

Acting New Jersey Gov. Richard Codey recently signed A2998, a bill that will reportedly provide numerous benefits to emergency personnel by helping volunteers who respond to emergencies.

“In today’s fast paced society, we often fail to appreciate and thank the people that sacrifice to keep us safe,” said Codey. “These men and women juggle the demands of career and family while bravely putting their life on the line. As elected officials, we must do everything we can to honor their services and help these volunteers fulfill their duties.”

Codey signed the bill at the Hamilton Avenue Firehouse in Hasbrouck Heights where he was joined by bill sponsors Senator Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen, Essex, Passaic) and Assembly members Frederick Scalera (D-Essex ), Patrick Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex) and Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May). Other bill sponsors include Senators Andrew Ciesla (R-Monmouth, Ocean), John Girgenti (D-Bergen, Passaic) and Fred Madden (D-Camden, Gloucester) and Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex).

Bill A-2998 will reportedly help volunteers respond to emergencies by correcting a litany of legal ambiguities surrounding the use of blue flashing lights on civilian response vehicles.

Under previous law, the vast majority of blue lights used by volunteer emergency responders were technically illegal because they are too bright. However, the lights that the law did allow were reportedly too weak to effectively warn drivers and pedestrians to free up the road, which ultimately posed a safety hazard.

The new bill will reportedly resolve these legal ambiguities and permit volunteer first responders to install larger contemporary light bars on response vehicles. The bill will go into effect immediately and the Motor Vehicle Commission will be responsible for issuing specifications for the equipment and creating permits for volunteers.

“By giving our volunteer emergency responders access to the appropriate tools of the trade, we can increase response time, especially in municipalities that rely heavily on volunteer services to protect and serve their residents,” said Sarlo. “Emergency lights will allow our volunteers to move quickly through traffic and avoid compounding the emergency by getting into a car crash on the way to a call.”

“This bill helps ensure the safety of our critical volunteer firefighters and rescue squads. At the same time, it enables local residents and drivers to better recognize a vehicle heading to a fire or emergency site,” added Sen. Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester.

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