Here’s Why it Reads ‘Keep Back 500 Feet’ on Fire Engines
If you've ever been behind a fire engine, chances are you saw the warning on the back of the truck that reads "Keep Back 500 Feet."
Some departments may alter the reading or warning, but you get the point.
So, why is it that you're required to "Keep Back 500 Feet" when a fire engine is en route to a call, with lights and sirens on?
Let's take a look at a few reasons, and will start with how some firefighters would respond to fires back in the day.
Often, some firefighters would ride respond to a call by riding on the back of trucks. You may have seen this in old photos or movies, but some firefighters would hold onto the truck and ride on it as it sped to the call.
According to some firefighters, 500 feet would give a driver who is paying attention to the road plenty of time and space to stop or avoid a firefighter if he or she fell off the truck.
Next, fire engines carry a lot of equipment. Yes, there are more than just hoses on these trucks and there is always the chance that something could fall off or out of the truck.
If that were to happen, being 500 feet away would again allow an observant driver to avoid anything like a hose, axe, fan, etc on the road.
Some states require a shorter distance between you and a fire engine that is responding to a call. Thus, you may see 300 or even 200 feet behind some trucks.
Let me note here that if you see a warning behind a fire engine that reads, "Keep Back 343 Feet" it's because the department is honoring the 343 firefighters who died on 9/11.
In a blog that I got into, some firefighters said that the warning is also active when a fire engine is parked at a scene.
So, if a fire engine is at a house fire or on the scene of an automobile accident, by law you are required to stay away from the apparatus even while it is parked and the lights are on.
This allows firefighters to have plenty of room to get to the equipment they may need while on a scene.
Seeing the warning behind a fire engine is something most of us have seen in our lifetime and these are the reasons for the warning on the truck.
Please obey and respect the warning.