Shut It Down Campaign Sparking Change In Fire Departments Across Kentucky

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GRAYSON COUNTY, Ky. (WBKO) -- Tragedy is driving the Glendale Fire Department to promote change and more safety for emergency responders across the state.

Thursday morning the department joined Grayson County responders in a meeting focused on traffic control.

A semi crashed into the scene of a car fire on I-65 in Hardin County on August 6th, killing 25-year-old Jonathan French.

Since then, the Glendale Fire Department vowed to "Shut It Down," starting a campaign on Facebook that already has thousands of likes.

"Basically, it's letting me know that Jonathan's death had a purpose, and it's comforting to know good things are coming out of this. Yes, we've lost him, no, he's not coming back home, but we have made a difference somewhere down the line," said Chief Richard Peters, of the Glendale Fire Department.

Fire departments across the state are considering their policies.

"We'll probably all be a little more conscious of how dangerous it is now after this has happened, and, like I said, we've changed our protocol a little bit to keep us safer," said Ken Lashley, assistant chief of the Clarkson Fire Department.

Lashley said just hours after French was killed, they shut down Western Kentucky Parkway during an accident, and said a Kentucky transportation official demanded they open it.

"We want to take care of that emergency situation -- keep the first responders safe -- but once everything in the emergency situation is clear, we have to remember the traveling public and try to get that roadway open, or get them detoured, so they can keep moving and there's not those secondary crashes," said Patty Dunaway, the chief district engineer of the Kentucky Department of Highways, District 4.

Lashley said he'll continue to shut down roads when necessary, but not for every accident.

In Glendale, Peters said he'll shut it down until everyone leaves.

"I don't care if it's tow trucks, state police, we're not moving until everybody is away from there in a safe distance to where we don't have to go through this again."

Before the meeting in Leitchfield Thursday morning, area fire departments felt a disconnect with Kentucky transportation officials.

Discussion during the meeting bridged that divide.

"Everybody wants the same thing. Everybody want everybody to go home and be safe, and that's all we wanted," Lashley said.

All agencies said communication is key to safety.

The Bowling Green Fire Department said it's not planning to change its policy just yet, but understands both the desire to shut roads down completely and the reasoning behind the Quick Clearance Law.

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