We recently published a series here at Utility Cycling dedicated entirely to emergency and patrol cycling services. The series about that included posts on police bicycles, emergency medical service (EMS) bicycles, fire service bicycles, and search and rescue bicycles. Header image credit: Palatine Bike Medic Team
The purpose of the series was to explore the ways in which bicycles can be utilized by emergency, fire, and police professionals in a wide range of settings. One of the main conclusions drawn from the series was that bicycles can be more effective than walking or driving in certain types of emergency situations, as a bicycle can navigate spaces which a motorized vehicle cannot and often at greater speeds than a person on foot. Oftentimes, officers or medical professionals on bikes are viewed as being more approachable than those in vehicles. Additionally, another theme throughout the posts was the notion of the heightened awareness and sensory perception that a police officer, EMS professional, search and rescue professional, or firefighter is awarded when using a bicycle. In short, the series highlighted both the importance and potential for using bicycles in this area of service.
Unfortunately, I was not able to find very much information about the use of bicycles for fire service. But I was pretty excited to discover a link this morning a link on Copenhagenize to an article on the BBC Scotland’s new website titled Saddling up to promote fire safety. It appears that the use of bicycles for fire service is growing and expanding!
Image Credit: BBC Scotland
According to the article, in Lanarkshire, Scotland, there is a new project being piloted in which firefighters use bicycles to connect and communicate with the local community about fire safety, as well as patrol for suspicious activity or fire hazards. The project has thus far been heralded as a success, in part due to the fact that the firefighters on bicycle duty are “off-rota”, which means there is no possibility for them to have to respond to an emergency, so they can focus on the task at hand.
On-duty bicycle fire officers focus on spotting fire hazards, such as trash dumped in parking lots that might be set on fire by local kids, and anything else that might cause a fire or injury. The officers also stop to chat with people at industrial complexes, on the streets, and around town, as many people are curious to find out what they are up to. According to one of the officers, David Buich:
When they see us out on the bikes they are usually curious and come up to ask what we are doing. That gives us an opportunity to talk to them about fire safety. (from BBC article).
The officers have also started make specific visit with the local community to talk about fire hazards and generally to make the idea of “fire service more accessible.” The bicycle officers speak at local community centers, as well as make specific home visits to help people clear up any fire hazards in their homes. There is also an effort being made to work towards a more friendly relationship with local youth in order to prevent arson and attacks on fire crews. And not surprisingly, as our series on the different kinds of patrol and emergency bike services demonstrated, the bicycle fire officers are much more accessible and approachable than they might be in a fire truck, which encourages people to view them in a more positive light, as well as connect with them on a more personal level.
Image Credit: BBC Scotland
Given the current success of this story, I am optimistic that using bicycles for fire service, as well as the other emergency and patrol service applications, could continue to expand. Much like the idea of using a bicycle to deliver packages is cost efficient, environmentally friendly, and good for business, so too is the bicycle for many other kinds of cycling services. I hope to see many more in the future!