College Station Firefighters Getting More Green Lights With Safety System

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Getting to emergency scenes can be a dangerous task for firefighters and paramedics but a safety system continues to grow giving the College Station Fire Department more green lights.

News 3 looked in to how high tech solutions are working to make the roads safer for everyone.

Before they can respond to scenes College Station Firefighters have to get through signal lights and traffic.

Tony Ray drives the ladder truck and engine for Fire Station 2.

Fire trucks and ambulances here are equipped with a special system called Opticom which sends a signal to most of the traffic lights in town, causing them to turn green during emergencies.

"Right here the first light out of the station once we turn the corner the strobe that's on the front of the truck it's a special white strobe, certain pattern and the signal picks it up turns the light green for us," Tony Ray said.

The point of the system isn't necessarily a faster response but to make it safer for firefighters and other drivers on the road.

Opticom has been in place here a while and is at most intersections including most of the major corridors. You can see the little sensors at the lights look like little plastic black tubes hanging from the crossarm.

First responders still struggle getting to calls as many drivers don't yield to the right like they are supposed to.

This system though has reduced crashes at intersections.

"They're gonna stop like they would normal traffic and then we can proceed through and so it's safer," Ray said.

The program is expected to expand to more intersections making Tony Ray's job a little less stressful.

College Station traffic engineers tell us it costs around $7,500 for four-way detection at each intersection and about half that amount for two-way traffic.

The City of Bryan has looked into plans to install the system on ten of their vehicles but right now it's cost prohibitive.

However, newer traffic lights in Bryan have technology installed which could be potentially used some day.