Fire trucks turning out to emergencies in Ballarat are now doing it in more safety, thanks to a new piece of technology installed this week.
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The Ballarat City Fire Brigade now has control of traffic lights on the eastbound lanes of Sturt Street and the southbound lane of Ripon Street, allowing trucks to turn into an empty Sturt Street during emergencies.

Firefighters have had several “near misses” in the past and have been working towards having the device installed for more than two years.

Senior station officer Anthony Pearce said the new device, approved by VicRoads, begins to stop traffic as soon as emergency calls reach the Sturt Street station.

“It’s programmed to activate the traffic lights at Ripon Street automatically when we receive a call,” he said.

“The red and blue lights out the front will start flashing, and about 30 seconds after that the traffic will be stopped.”

Mr Pearce said firefighters wanted to explain to motorists why the regular traffic signal sequence could change on occasion.

“We probably have four or five call-outs a day, so for five times a day – it’s not that bad,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it’s about our safety and the safety of every other road user as well.”

Mr Pearce said that before this week, fire trucks could turn out into congested traffic or have to wait until the two lanes cleared.

“Other times when they go past, we’ve got to negotiate them if they get congested further up the street,” he said.

“Now we should have a clear run.”

The brigade has been involved in an “ongoing process” for the past two or three years to obtain the system, which they say will shorten the time it takes to get to emergencies.

“It will allow us to exit the station safely and, in turn, may reduce our response times,” Mr Pearce said.

The system was installed on Tuesday by VicRoads staff.

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Safe exit: Senior station officer Anthony Pearce with the new device to control the traffic lights on Sturt Street. PICTURE: ADAM TRAFFORD

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