Story originally posted by Anthony Conn at WCHS ABC 8
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — Everyone has been taught that when you see lights or hear sirens while driving, slow down and pull over to the side of the road, but not everybody does.
"When we're responding to a call, we have to basically be defensive driving, because we don't know what that driver is going to be doing in front of us, or coming out from an intersection," South Charleston Fire Chief Virgil White said.
The South Charleston Fire Department is now using HAAS Alert systems and devices that let drivers know they are coming up fast. White says they have them installed on two trucks right now, with plans to equip the entire fleet.
"It allows them to be alerted prior to us getting close to their vehicles, or their vehicles getting close to us when we're responding on calls. So they know to slow down and pull over," White said.
The South Charleston Fire Department entered into a 5-year contract with HAAS about two and a half months ago. The devices on the firetrucks are about $400 each.
The system only works with the navigation app Waze. When a firetruck is coming down the road near you, and its lights are on, you'll get an icon on your screen.
HAAS sends out monthly reports showing the amount of Waze users notified of emergency vehicles, and also shows department response time. In a recent report, 435 drivers were alerted in South Charleston in the month of June.
White says it gives him peace of mind knowing they have a new way to avoid dangerous situations.
"It can be pretty devastating if we have a collision,” White said. “A firetruck weighing as much as it does, you're talking several hundred feet to get stopped."
HAAS Alert also works with police, EMS, transportation departments, towing and construction.