Fire Trucks - No License Plates
(This posting was edited on May 7 to reflect new information.)
Last month I wrote about the fire engines and paramedic vehicles of the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District parking illegally in the Fire Lane at the Woodstock Recreation Center, when the firefighters and paramedics are there to work out on the exercise equipment, play basketball and/or swim.
My reading of the Illinois Vehicle Code indicates that this parking is strictly illegal, but I have not been able to persuade the Fire Chief (who also is a City Councilman), the Police Chief, the City Manager or the Mayor that the fire trucks and ambulances are parking there illegally. The law is quite clear and sets out conditions under which a fire truck can park in a fire lane – they must be there as an emergency response and their emergency lights must be operating. The City refuses to get a legal opinion from the City Attorney.
When I drove by the Woodstock Recreation Department at 3:00PM on May 4, I saw two fire trucks (E32 and E35) in the Fire Lane and stopped to photograph them. While I was taking the pictures, I noticed that there was no front license plate on one truck. Then I noticed there was no front license plate on the other fire truck. Walking around to the rear of each fire truck, I noticed that there are no rear license plates, either.
I called a desk officer (sergeant) of the Illinois State Police and he told me that fire trucks are required to display license plates. (This turned out to be incorrect.)
After speaking with the ISP sergeant, I was pretty sure that license plates were required on fire trucks, because they are motor vehicles. Then I telephoned the Police Department and left a message for the Chief, asking why the fire engines didn't have license plates.
As I thought more about this over the week-end and checked with other fire departments in the area (with mixed responses), I decided to call the Ilinois Secretary of State Police office in Rockford. They are the specialists in truck enforcement. The desk officer there today checked the Illinois Vehicle Code and explained the exception for fire trucks. So it turns out that they don't have to have license plates, whereupon I called the office of the Woodstock Police Chief to let him know what I had learned on May 7.
This doesn't change my determination that they are to be parked legally while WFRD employees are working out at the rec center. That issue is still open.
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