A Victorian fire fighter has been given a suspended gaol sentence after enter a plea of guilty to a charge of dangerous driving causing the death – see the article from the Age).

Under the Australian Road Rules the driver of an emergency vehicle is exempt the provisions of the rules provided they are sounding their siren or have the warning beacons on and they are taking reasonable care. The rules however only deal with minor matters of traffic regulation. Drivers of emergency vehicles have never been exempt from more serious matters such as the obligation to drive with care, not to drive whilst intoxicated etc so it has always been open for police to charge the driver of an emergency vehicle with offences such as negligent drivers, culpable or dangerous driving causing death and in extreme cases, manslaughter. This case is a sad reminder of that fact and the fact that proceeding to deal with a fire or other emergency doesn’t justify putting other, innocent lives at risk.

Our sympathy must go out both to this firefighter and to the family of the young girl tragically killed in the accident.

Michael Eburn