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Emergency Vehicles and SAR in Saskatchewan

The following information is provided from correspondence during the summer of 2011 between myself (Jody Herperger) and the Saskatchewan Office of the Fire Commissioner (JD Lloyd, Emergency Services Officer). JD has been tasked by the Fire Commissioner to coordinate the Office's Civilian Emergency Vehicle Operator (CEVO) training program, which is currently offered to volunteer firefighters in Saskatchewan.

Personal vehicles as emergency vehicles


Jody: JD, please give an overview of the Saskatchewan legislation and the groups it was targeted for.


JD: The changes to the Traffic Safety Act that allow volunteer fire fighters to operate their personal vehicles as designated emergency vehicles are restricted to fire fighters only.  To qualify the municipality the fire fighter will be operating in must first pass a bylaw allowing for designation of fire fighters' personal vehicles as emergency vehicles, the vehicle must be equipped with approved lights and siren and the driver must pass the CEVO training course offered by the OFC.


The OFC might be able to arrange CEVO training for SAR members - but there still is no provision under this program that SAR volunteers could operate their personal vehicles as emergency vehicles.  The primary limitation of this particular legislation is the requirement for each municipality operated in to have the requisite bylaw in place. That said, CEVO driver training may satisfy the Highway Traffic Board (HTB) if you go to them to have a marked vehicle designated as an emergency response vehicle (see below).


Using a SAR vehicle as an Emergency Vehicle


Jody: What are the requirements for the vehicle? Can any volunteer's private vehicle be used?


JD: All emergency vehicles must receive authorization - either in provincial legislation or from the HTB - before they can be operated as an emergency vehicle.  Private vehicles are granted authority ONLY for volunteer fire fighters. For SAR organizations, each vehicle must be individually designated as an emergency response vehicle by the Highway Traffic Board. In general, emergency response vehicles must have specific markings, reflectivity/lighting/sound requirements, and must pass mechanical inspection. Some SAR organizations have purchased mobile command posts that were formerly designated as emergency response vehicles (from former fire departments or police forces). These vehicles lose their emergency response designation at the time of sale. So even if the vehicle you have is equipped with lights and siren - there is no provision in legislation that would permit you to use the warning devices (or drive contrary to the Traffic Safety Act).  If fact the lights and siren should be removed and not even be mounted prior to approval by the HTB.


You can apply to the highway Traffic Board to have your marked vehicle(s) designated for emergency response.  See their web site at http://www.highwaytrafficboard.sk.ca/RegulatoryApplications/EmergencyVeh.html


Legal Issues


Jody: What legal and liability concerns should SAR be concerned with before pursuing an emergency response vehicle designation?


JD: There are very significant liabilities associated with operating an emergency vehicle.  You'll want to look into the costs of insurance protection - if you can get any.  With the exception of some police vehicles (and volunteer fire fighter's designated vehicles) all emergency vehicles must be marked with name and safety reflective striping.  The HTB would also have to decide what colour lights you should carry - all red for fire, red and white for ambulance or white and blue for police.  There is currently no specific light colour set for SAR and EMO responders.  Legislation makes no provision for the designation of SAR and EMO vehicles as emergency vehicles.


In the past the HTB has been somewhat reluctant to designate emergency vehicles that don't respond to immediate life safety incidents - the important phrase there is "immediate."  If you can make a solid case to the HTB that an emergency response would greatly improve the provision of your particular services - it is more likely that they will look favourably at your application. 


Jody: Thank you, JD. That's great information for SAR.


JD: You're welcome.


More information on this topic can be found at the Office of the Fire Commissioner website - http://www.cpsp.gov.sk.ca/evs.


The Office of the Fire Commissioner has issued a useful document (http://www.cpsp.gov.sk.ca/TC_EmergencyVehicles.pdf) that addresses the types of equipment that may be installed on a vehicle that gets approval from the Highway Traffic Board. Green lights are NOT on the permissible list, nor are any flashing lights in colours other than RED and AMBER. The following is excerpted from the above document:


Section 7 of the Vehicle Equipment Regulations

(4) A vehicle approved as an emergency vehicle by the Highway Traffic Board may be fitted with the following equipment:
    (a) one or more red beacons;
    (b) one or more red flashing lamps mounted on the front, rear and sides of the vehicle;
    (c) a red beacon or flashing lamp mounted on the dash of the vehicle;
    (d) one or more stationary lamps;
    (e) one or more amber flashing lamps;
    (f) a siren.


Section 5 of the Vehicle Equipment Regulations
5 No vehicle other than an emergency vehicle shall be equipped with a emergency light or a siren.




  • Saskatchewan legislation allows volunteer firefighters special privileges.
  • Special training is required to operate a vehicle under this legislation.
  • The Highway Traffic Board must specifically authorize any SAR vehicles before they can be operated contrary to the Traffic Safety Act.
  • There are numerous legal liability issues to consider before pursuing emergency vehicle designation.