Warning light colors

brucobuff

Assistant Chief
Engine33Truck said:
wf33ret said:
1961 Mack
Rescue & Lighting Unit
250 / 300
Palasades Park, N.J.


Photographer Unknown, Lloyd Collection
Any idea why all the warning lights (save the Sireno) are blue?
NJ allows or did allow blue lights on fire rigs, I have even seen blue Mars 888s :eek:
 

GA_Dave

Assistant Chief
Numerous States authorize blue warning lights for fire apparatus. In some States, certain FD's just use blue lights because they do the job and don't worry about the cops ego! The point is visibility and safety, isn't it? Blue lights stand out from everything else because nothing else out there has blue lights except emergency vehicles. I know of two States that have changed the law in recent years to authorize fire apparatus to have blue lights.
 

Engine33Truck

Assistant Chief
GA_Dave said:
Numerous States authorize blue warning lights for fire apparatus. In some States, certain FD's just use blue lights because they do the job and don't worry about the cops ego! The point is visibility and safety, isn't it? Blue lights stand out from everything else because nothing else out there has blue lights except emergency vehicles. I know of two States that have changed the law in recent years to authorize fire apparatus to have blue lights.
I've seen some FD's in the US run red and blue but never just blue. That's an interesting concept, and if it works, I say go with it!
 

X Chief 1

Firefighter
I would sincerely like to make some comments about blue lights/red lights/green lights/white lights----but I'm not going to say anything because there are those out here that are touchy - --I drove fire apparatus and squads for more than ten years and road the offier's seat for another fifteen so I do know something about the subject. I will say however, that I believe it relates to the color we paint the rigs - - -are we talking about others seeing us when we are stopped, or when we are approaching them from their behind? How far away do we need to be seen is another question - - -night or day; in a downpour of rain -- in snow etc. etc.. So, fellas, let us not get carried away.
Dan E. Boyd
 

GA_Dave

Assistant Chief
I would sincerely like to make some comments about blue lights/red lights/green lights/white lights----but I'm not going to say anything because there are those out here that are touchy
Just what do you mean by that??? (just kidding!) ;D


Seriously, the issue here in Georgia is an ego issue with LE. They want the blue lights for themselves. The law changed a few years back to authorize blue lights on any emergency vehicle, then was changed back because the LE had a hissy fit over it. The "Fire Service Leaders" in this State didn't object because they felt it wasn't important enough. What a load of political BS.

Here's the way I see it. What is important is the safety of everyone on the scene of an incident on the highways. As you drive down a highway some evening, look ahead of you. There will be many red lights, both taillights and brake lights of the vehicles you are following. Red warning lights will not readily stand out. You will also see yellow lights, coming from turn signals, road crews, wreckers, snowplows, etc. Yellow warning lights will not stand out either. A blue light will stand out and it will be immediately recognized as a reason to slow down. Most drivers will act accordingly.

In my FD, we run numerous incidents on two Interstates that run through our city. Most often, we are on scene well before LE. We have one engine with blue lights on the rear. The rest of the apparatus do not. There is a noticeable difference in the behavior of traffic when that engine or LE is on scene, compared to when they are not. Truck 1 was struck on a scene and out of service for over a week for repairs. It's our only aerial. Engine 2 has been hit twice on scenes and the engine before it was hit once. None have blue lights and Engine 2 has mostly yellow lights as seen from behind. Engine 1, the one with blue lights, has not been hit. Granted it is only two years old, but I have seen how traffic reacts to it.

The Macon-Bibb County FD had several apparatus hit on the highway. About 4 or 5 years ago, they added blue lights to the rear of all apparatus. They have not had one hit since.

Then there is the urban legend of the guy with a blue light who pulls over unsuspecting women and rapes them. I'm sure it has happened somewhere, but nowhere near as often as LE would have you believe. And he wasn't driving a fire apparatus either!
 

Engine33Truck

Assistant Chief
I'm not going to debate on how the color of fire apparatus effects visibility because that'll start a fist fight, but the way I see it is the same as Dave's. I've been on scenes and driving past them, blue lights are 100x more visible than red. I was in St. Louis last summer and drove past two car wrecks, on both scenes the FD (St. Louis FD and Warrenton FD) ran red and blue, and were much more visible than the fire apparatus I've been on and been past on scenes in WV, MD and VA. I'm all for adopting at least one blue light on the rear of apparatus, I've seen at least one of Boston's trucks have them and a hand full of others, green works also. We in the fire service have to evolve, red lights and amber lights just don't stand out the way they used to. Granted they stand out more in LED, strobe or roller form, but still, they don't stand out like they used to. And amber lights are darn near useless, so throw in a blue or green light on the tail.
 

paulromano

Captain
I have to agree with GA_Dave. Having had the privilege of serving as both fire and police chief in my community for 30 years, I fully agree with the practice of mixing in a blue light on a piece of fire apparatus and a red light on a cruiser. My fire department started by using a single blue light on the rear of apparatus about 25 years ago. It caught on quickly with other departments. We were technically in violation of the law as Mass law provided for display of blue lights by police departments and a few others only. Conversely red lights were limited to fire apparatus and disaster responders plus call firefighters with a red light permit. To solve the problem, the Chiefs' associations got together and sponsored legislation to allow fire apparatus to display one blue light (fixed, rotating or oscillating), and the police to display one red light (fixed, rotating or oscillating). When we started using the Federal Street Hawk lights on cruisers, we would use a red lens on one of the rear facing flashing halogens. On fire apparatus, we found that a single Federal model 14 Beacon with a blue lens worked well but we also tried a few sealed beam rear facing lights which were also effective. Sometimes we fudged it a little on the rescue/pumpers that responded to Interstate 95 and gave them one of each. The blue was definitely an attention getter in a sea of red on the highway. The red on the cruisers was good but did not, in my opinion, make the difference that the blue made on the fire apparatus. Police and Fire in my area got along very well, including the State Police. We had a State Police barracks in Town and were friendly with many of the Troopers. Their numbers on patrol were slim in the 70's and they were always glad to see help arriving at a bad scene on Rte. 95. I never recalled anyone complaining about the color of any lights on anything with wheels.

As I like to say, I had the advantage of working when it was great fun in addition to the stresses of the job. Much of the fun is gone today.

As hard as it is for me to get used to, the diagonal, reflective striping on the back of apparatus is effective in getting seen.
 

johnmocha

Firefighter
Funny, but back in NJ in the 80s and early 90s the only folks who could legally have blue lights were volunteer fire and rescue squad members who were responding to their station or the scene. I'm not sure what the current law is but there seems to be all manner of lights now. Out here in Seattle the police do red and blue while fire and medic use all red. At least one amber on the rear of the fire apparatus, which also seems to be popular in California. My favorite light and most effective light that I had the pleasure of using (on our 1980 Mack CF) was a Federal Aerodynic (I believe) that was all red but had a white "sweep" light in the middle. It worked like a charm and was so much better than the original four bulb Federal rotating beacon.
 

Engine33Truck

Assistant Chief
johnmocha said:
My favorite light and most effective light that I had the pleasure of using (on our 1980 Mack CF) was a Federal Aerodynic (I believe) that was all red but had a white "sweep" light in the middle. It worked like a charm and was so much better than the original four bulb Federal rotating beacon.
Lights like that are pretty effective, also. People are used to white lights on vehicles, but the white "sweep" lights and other forms of white lights thrown on apparatus are a lot brighter and harsher than most other white lights seen on the road.

paulromano said:
As hard as it is for me to get used to, the diagonal, reflective striping on the back of apparatus is effective in getting seen.
I'm mostly going to leave this alone, as I have very strong feelings about those chevrons, LOL. If they're so effective (not saying they're not), then why aren't they required on commercial vehicles? To which tractor-trailers are often like black holes at night, you don't see them until you're right on top of them. I like hearing the perspective of those in other states, as, like I said, I'm in favor of legislation that replaces the amber lights on the back of WV fire truks with a blue light or two.
 

alvin201

Firefighter
Hey ADMIN...

This thread has morphed into a discussion of colors of warning lights. In the past I have posted about Buckeyes, Roto-Rays, etc when appropriate in an apparatus discussion.

How about a NEW CATEGORY for postings about warning lights, sirens, other devices. I am sure a lot can be added there.

Thanks.
 

START WATER

District Chief
YOU ASLL KNOW I HAD TO STOP IN HERE AND SAY SOMETHING

I HAVE ALWAYS SAID WE NEED A NATIONAL COLOR AND NOTHING ELSE CAN USE IT I BELIEVE AT ONE TIME SO I BEEN TOLD THERE WAS A NATIONAL COLOR ON FIRE TRUCKS AND NOTHING ELSE COULD BE PAINTED THAT COLOR . WOW WHAT A IDEA

I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ANYTHING BUT THE WHITE LIGHTS USED TO MARK A RUNWAY CAN BE SEEN PRETTY FAR OUT AND UP .
AROUND THE WORLD .

I HAVE RODE WITH A CHIEF IN CHICAGO AND WHAT EVER THEY HAD SWEPT THE INTERSECTION UPON APPROACH MAY BE THE 888S

MANY TIMES I HAVE USED THE RIG MOUNTED SPOTLIGHT APPROACHING INTERSECTIONS AND IT WORKED GREAT JUST BOUNCED IT UP AND DOWN NO BODY KNEW WHAT IS WAS

WHILE TALKING NATIONAL COLOR HOW ABOUT POLICE CARS ALSO BE ONLY ONE COLOR

OURS HAVE BEEN RED ,BLUE AND NOW WHITE
AND IT GETS CRAZY THE PD ORDERS ARE TURN OFF SIRENS AND LIGHTS WITHING THREE BLOCKS OF THE CALL , THEY DIDN'T SAY SLOW DOWN , LOLOLOLO DON'T WARN THE BAD GUYS YOUR COMING. I ALSO RAN ON I95 FOR 6 YEARS , AND NEVER FOUND THE REAL ANSWER EXCEPT USE LOADS OF CAUTION
CURRENTLY WE SEND A TILLERED LADDER ALONG WITH WHAT EVER ELSE IS NEEDED AND THEY JACK KNIFE THE TRAILER AND STOPS TRAFFIC VERY WELL AND THE STATE TROOPERS GET VERY UPSET

THEY TOLD A BC TO MOVE THE LADDER AND HE SAID HEY YOU HAVE THE JAWS NO WELL THEN LEAVE ,LOLOLO YEA IT WENT TO THE COMMISSIONERS OFFICE WE STILL BLOCK AT LEAST THREE LANES . I REALLY BELIEV THE LE THINKS WE WORK FOR THEM
AND THERE SHOULD BE A WAY TO TEACH THEM THE FACTS

THE PROBLEMM OF GETTING THERE FIRST IS TO NOT ENTER THE HIGHWAY WITH OUT THEM . ITS HARD TO SET UP , BUT IF ITS YOUR LIFE AT RISK , THEN DO IT

I MADE A REAL MISTAKE ON MY FIRE ACCIDENT RUN 0N I95 AS A OFFICER GOOD ACCIDENT 5 OR MORE VEHICLES , GAVE THE REPORT AND OPENED THE CAB DOOR WITH OUT LOOKING AS A TRUCK WENT PAST AROUND JET SPEED , ALMOST GOT SUCKED OUT OF THE CAB . ITS THE SIMPLE SAFETY RULES WE FORGET WORRYING ABOUT BIGGER ONES THAT WILL KILL YOU .

They now claim the best color to be seen in all weather is the puke green color of airport fire trucks .
 

paulromano

Captain
I HAVE RODE WITH A CHIEF IN CHICAGO AND WHAT EVER THEY HAD SWEPT THE INTERSECTION UPON APPROACH MAY BE THE 888S
Chicago used the Aurora Borealis light---think Mars made it. Spectacular light!!

Here is a link to a youtube clip of an Aurora Borealis light operating:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sH0mBALmwKg

The youtube link below is titled: "Chicago Firefighters Drilling with Wooden Aerial" in the beginning of the clip is a Chicago Chiefs car with an Aurora Borealis flanked by two Mars 888's.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgrVJ4Z5QGM&NR=1&feature=fvwp
 

Engine33Truck

Assistant Chief
START WATER said:
They now claim the best color to be seen in all weather is the puke green color of airport fire trucks .
I saw floating around here on this site that the science used to prove that is regarded as "junk science", aka pseudo science. I've seen elsewhere that those "scientific tests" were more or less rigged. I believe that, while red is the tradition and personal preference, the color of the truck really doesn't matter as long as it has sufficient visual and audible warning devices to respond to calls safely. Now as to a national color, I don't necessarily agree that every fire truck in the US should be painted in one color and every cop car in another, so on and so forth, as much as I agree that there should be a national color of light. As in I believe that every fire apparatus should have at least one blue or green light somewhere on the rear rather than an amber light, and ever cop car should have a different color that clashes with the light bar (like if they only use blue lights then it should be red, amber or something like that, and if they use red and blue lights, then it should be black, white or green).
 

X Chief 1

Firefighter
Fellas, please get the one color for the nation out of your minds - "-who" will determine it? We are being ruled by too many "up above" now - - do whatever is best for you -- you decide,not some one else -- sure, it is wise to use scientific information - - assuming it is correct!
Dan E. Boyd
 

GA_Dave

Assistant Chief
Fellas, please get the one color for the nation out of your minds - "-who" will determine it? We are being ruled by too many "up above" now - - do whatever is best for you -- you decide,not some one else -- sure, it is wise to use scientific information - - assuming it is correct!
Dan E. Boyd
AMEN! We have far too much regulation from "Big Brother" now.

Scientific data and common sense need to be applied. I get ill when regulations prevent one group from using something that can obviously make my workplace safer, but that same regulation makes it okay for another group to use. What makes them special?
 

BX100

Probie
In the mid 90's, the UK established uniform colors for emergency vehicles. All EV's sport RED/YELLOW chevrons on the rear. Fire appliances are RED with RED/YELLOW "battenburg" (checkerboard) along the side. Ambulances are LIMEish YELLOW with GREEN/YELLOW "battenburg" along the side. Police vehicles are WHITE with BLUE/YELLOW "battenburg" along the sides. Of course emergency lights on all EV's are BLUE. Some have WHITE strobes to the front with an NCO switch to deactivate when stopped. The system seems to work, even in heavy traffic, there is no difficulty seeing and ID'ing EV's even while driving non emergency. However, in speaking with some friends I've made in the Fire Service, they would love to have the varying liverys and such as we do in the US. They loved the large co. #'s and co. logos most US departments display. Post 2001, the UK also instituted a national numbering system. As an example, where I now live, the Devon and Somerset Fire Rescue Service has the national ID of "V" (victor), each station then has a number and each appliance has a number. My town, Brixham is Station 21 and has two pumps. They are ID'ed as V21P1(Victor 21 Pumper 1) and V21P2(Victor 21 Pumper 2). I think I still prefer the US style such as we used in Tampa, with large co. #'s and logos which gave a sense on pride and brotherhood. It's a big interesting world though and I love to learn how someone else gets the job done.

Joe Motil
Tampa Fire Rescue
Truck 1"C"
retired
 

paulromano

Captain
Thanks Joe--always good to see how it is done in other countries. I can't help wondering if some of the success that EV's enjoy in England is related to what I hear is a more genteel manner of driving with less "aggressive" operation. Their color scheme does let you pick out the vehicles.
 
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