Q. I always get scared and don’t know what to do when a police or fire vehicle is driving with their lights and sirens on. What is the lawful thing to do when an emergency vehicle is approaching?

A. Emergency vehicles are an extremely important tool for our first responders. We need to be able to respond in a safe and timely manner to save lives and protect your property. While it is the emergency personnel’s job to drive with due regard for the public safety of all people using the highway, the driver of a vehicle also has a requirement to yield the right-of-way. Pedestrians also have a duty to yield the right-of-way to the emergency vehicle.

The California Vehicle Code section 21806 states (in summary):

Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle which is sounding a siren and which has at least one lighted lamp exhibiting red light that is visible to the front of the vehicle, the surrounding traffic, except as otherwise directed by a traffic officer, shall do the following:

(a)(1) The driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to the right-hand edge or curb of the highway, clear of any intersection, and thereupon shall stop and remain stopped until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.

(2) A person driving a vehicle in an exclusive or preferential use lane shall exit that lane immediately upon determination that the exit can be accomplished with reasonable safety.

(c) All pedestrians upon the highway shall proceed to the nearest curb or place of safety and remain there until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.

So, to answer your question simply, please pull to the right safely, and remain there until the emergency vehicle passes. Then, again safely, merge back into traffic and resume your travel.

Q: I know this is not a police question, but I have a bunch of old paint and other chemicals in my garage that have been sitting there for years and I know they are a fire hazard, but don’t know how to get rid of them legally. How can I get rid them?

A: You are in luck. The Office of Sustainability and the Environment has started a new door-to-door collection program. The goal of the pilot program is to expand levels of service for residents while reducing the costs associated with managing hazardous waste. The service will be provided on a free and unlimited basis to home owners and renters alike.

Beginning Feb. 1, the Household Hazardous Waste Center will be available for drop-off service on Saturdays only. If the pilot collection program is successful, City Hall will transition to a permanent pick-up system in June 2011.

The new service is provided in a few easy steps:

1. Reserve collection service: call 1 (800) HHW-PKUP (449-7587), Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or e-mail hotline@curbsideinc.com.

2. Receive collection kit in the mail (includes detailed instructions with collection day reminder).

3. Prepare collection kit at your doorstep or at a predetermined location on collection day.

4. Leave prepared materials and they’ll do the rest.

The dumping of hazardous waste in the trash or street is prohibited by the Santa Monica Municipal Code. We all want a safe and beautiful city, not only for ourselves, but for the visitors too.

5.08.150 SMMC Collection of Refuse states:

(b) Except as provided in subsection (c) below, hazardous waste shall not be deposited in any container for refuse, garbage, rubbish, recyclables, or industrial waste. Hazardous waste shall be disposed of only according to applicable provisions of federal, state, and city law and regulations.

(c) The director of general services may in his or her discretion establish a program for the city collection and management of hazardous waste generated by qualified businesses located within the city.

Q. I live across the street from a public park in Santa Monica. A group of guys come and play loud music in the park every Friday night at about 10 o’clock. Is there anything that can be done about the music?

A. The public parks have a restriction from playing any audio or electronic device between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. Santa Monica Municipal Code 4.12.100 SMMC, which restricts noise in public parks, beaches, or recreational facilities, states:

(a) No person shall play any audio or electronic device including, but not limited to, any radio, tape player, compact disc, electronic keyboard or any other musical instrument after 10 p.m. or before 8 a.m. in or upon any public park, beach or recreational facility owned or maintained by the city of Santa Monica unless this device is only audible through headphones or earphones.

(b) This section shall not prohibit any individual or group from playing any musical instrument, or any other audio or electronic device if granted permission by City Hall to play or perform in or upon a public park, beach or other recreational facility owned or maintained by City Hall pursuant to a community event permit.

If this is occurring, you can call our dispatch at (310) 458-8491 and we’ll respond to advise the subjects in the park.

This column was prepared by NRO Scott Pace (Beat 2: Lincoln Boulevard to Ocean Front Walk, Interstate 10 to Ozone Avenue). He can be reached at (424) 200-0682 or scott.pace@smgov.net.