City Will Install Emergency Vehicle Preemption System

January 21, 2011

The Prattville City Council recently voted in favor of implementing an Opticom system for the Fire Department. This system allows Fire Department emergency vehicles to preempt traffic signals while responding to emergency calls. For example, if a fire truck or ambulance is traveling on Main Street and approaching a traffic signal, the signal will be preempted, changed to yellow and then red, to give the emergency vehicle the right of way. Not all traffic signals will be controlled by the emergency vehicle. Firefighters/EMTs will have a certain number of signals, yet to be determined, that will be equipped with this technology. The most dangerous or difficult areas to navigate will be PFD's first choice. The system will be installed at the chosen intersections, and in the vehicles, by the vendor. Engineering and Vehicle Maintenance personnel will be trained to work on the system should adjustments need to be made in the future.

Safety, for citizens and emergency personnel, is the goal when implementing this system within our city.

Benefits realized from other cities through Opticom installation are:

  • Improve health and well being of emergency personnel ‐ reduce driver stress, lowers accident potential and cost of injured personnel
  • Reduce liability exposure and improve safety of emergency personnel – safer passage through intersections, lower accident potential (up to 70% crash reduction)
  • Increase mobility & accessibility – interoperability between jurisdictions by supporting mutual aid response, improve response efficiency by expanding coverage
  • Improve public safety – reduce incident response times for Police, Fire & Ambulance
  • Improve travel time to meet NFPA 1710 Standard in Fire Operations ‐ reduce response time by an average of 20%, reduce total idle/stop time during incident response
  • Reduce cost in fire/rescue and EMS planning – investment of additional vehicles, stations and personnel
  • Reduce maintenance and impact on vehicle systems – less braking and less stops
  • Reduce cost of fuel consumption – less braking and idling during incident response
  • Increase environmental stability ‐ reduce “emissions” via shortened travel time and reduced number of stops and idle time
  • Reduce cost of insurance premiums – lower incident rate (crash rates) with safer passage through intersections


While the City of Prattville will expend funds for this project, we have been awarded a Congressionally Selected Award for this acquisition. The City of Prattville will be reimbursed 100% by the 2010 Congressional Appropriations Act. Purchase and implementation of Opticom is $150,075 with an additional $2,000 for training to be divided between the Fire, Engineering and Vehicle Maintenance Departments.

Implementation is due to be completed this summer. For more information about Opticom, please visit their website.