City approves contract for preemption devices

When responding to a crisis, emergency vehicles are working against the clock to respond to those in need of assistance.

With time not always on their side, high-traffic areas, intersections and red traffic lights become obstacles keeping those emergency responders from arriving safely to those in need of help.

A contract for 17 new preemption devices recently was approved by the Seymour City Council and Seymour Board of Public Works and Safety. Funds for two additional units for signal preemption and six more vehicle transponders installations also were approved.

A preemption device is technology that will allow emergency vehicles to communicate with traffic lights at intersections.

Once an emergency vehicle approaches an intersection, a transponder attached to the emergency vehicle signals a confirmation beacon attached on the traffic light pole, allowing the emergency vehicle to safely turn the traffic light green and giving them the right of way.

This device will only activate the traffic lights when the emergency vehicle’s lights are on and actively responding to an emergency.

This technology will likely reduce the response time of emergency vehicles, reduce intersection crashes between emergency vehicles and other vehicles and eliminate priority conflict in the intersections.

During Thursday’s board of works meeting, city Engineer Bernie Hauersperger provided quotes from different companies on the cost to install these systems.

Quotes for the installation of these devices were opened Dec. 22. Updates from two quote providers and clarification on the type of system installed were returned to Hauersperger three days later.

The quotes also included a different total with a deduction to remove the confirmation beacons as a possibility.

Midwestern Electric Inc. of Indianapolis will be installing the preemption devices with the addition of the confirmation beacons for a quote of $205,000. Some of the city’s $4.16 million in American Rescue Plan funds will be used to fund the work.

The confirmation beacons are intended to communicate the status of the traffic light with the emergency vehicle.

The elimination of the confirmation beacons would reduce the original quote to $162,000 but would come with some safety concerns.

“Midwestern currently does the maintenance on the Seymour signals, and we are happy with their work,” Hauersperger said.

A timeline for when these preemption devices will be installed is unclear, but Seymour Fire Department Chief Brad Lucas said he hopes to have more information in the next few weeks as they finalize the plans.