What do you do when you see a green flashing light?

A sign about firefighter green lights next to the highway near Fergus, Ontario on a sunny day
A sign asking motorists to yield when they see a green flashing lights can be found on St. David Street North in Fergus, Ontario. Photo by Austin Cardinell.

Emergency vehicles in Ontario primarily use red flashing lights when responding to an emergency.

But what does a green flashing light mean?

Centre Wellington Deputy Fire Chief Jonathan Karn said the communities of Fergus and Elora are very unique because they get many visitors all throughout the year.

“We get a lot of people in from larger centres and cities and they don’t understand what the green [flashing] light is, and really the green light that a firefighter would use is at the time when they are answering a call and responding to the station,” Karn said.

“All our firefighters come from work, they come from home when their pager is activated and they go to the station where they then get on the fire apparatus and go to the call,” he said.

A screenshot of the tweet from the official Township of Centre Wellington account on March 12 featuring a short bit of text and a green flashing light graphic

The Township of Centre Wellington shared a Tweet about the importance of pulling over when motorists see a green flashing light. Photo courtesy of the Centre Wellington Twitter account.

In Ontario, motorists are only required to pull over and stop for emergency vehicles such as police cruisers, fire trucks, or ambulances.

The law does not require motorists to pull over when they see a  flashing green light, it’s up to the motorist on whether or not they want to pull over.

“The green light is a courtesy, it doesn’t afford our firefighters any sort of special privileges as far as being able to go through stop signs, go through red lights, [or] pass vehicles, it’s a courtesy that people would pull over and pull to the right and let our firefighters through,” Karn said.

But Karn said every second counts when responding to a call and if a motorist does pull over it does help a firefighter get to the station in an efficient and timely manner.

He added it’s great when people understand what they’re seeing in regards to the green flashing light, so they can yield the right of way to their firefighters.

Centre Wellington deputy fire Chief Jonathan Karn:

 

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