ROXBURY, NJ – In an effort to stop drivers from passing fire trucks and ambulances returning to firehouses, the township will establish official no-passing zones in front of the buildings, paint warning lines on the roads there and teach firefighters to use reflective “paddles” to hold traffic.

The measures, approved at a recent meeting of the Roxbury Mayor and Council, are in reaction to complaints by fire and emergency medical personnel. The issue was raised in December by Roxbury Councilwoman Jaki Albrecht.

Although Albrecht expressed concern about the situation in front of the Roxbury Chemical Engine Co. 1 firehouse  the new safety measures will be implemented at all three Roxbury firehouses.

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The measures approved at the July 24 meeting should work and will be “a relatively inexpensive way to address the issues” said Roxbury Police Chief Marc Palanchi in a letter to the council.

Albrecht had suggested a flashing red light in front of the Succasunna firehouse. Palanchi, in his letter, recommended trying the low-cost solution first. “I believe that the first three steps may very well be enough to solve the passing problem that exists and I think that we should try this corrective action first,” he wrote. “If there is a need for step four to also be implemented we can add that and do that as well. I think this is a relatively inexpensive way to address the issues that occur at this location.”

Establishing official no-passing zones in front of the firehouses will require ordinances for each new zone. Palanchi noted the current fines for violating Roxbury’s existing no-passing zones are up to $50. He said that amount “may need to be changed since that is less than a taillight being out.”

He also said there would need to be signs erected on both sides of the streets, possibly saying “Passing Firetrucks Prohibited” or “Firehouse; No Passing.”

In addition to the signs and painted warnings on the pavement, Palanchi offered “to train the firemen in the technique of using the truck to stop the traffic and then have a fireman step off the truck with a reflective “stop” paddle which will allow the fireman to “hold” the traffic while the driver maneuvers the truck into the firehouse.”

The chief noted the firefighter holding the sign “would not actually be placing himself in the road in front of moving vehicles” because the vehicles would be stopped by the truck already.

Roxbury Councilman Jim Rilee said the measures “will hopefully make the fire department members feel safer.”