I recently had a discussion with a colleague about the different colors fire trucks are these days. One focus was whether some form of the yellow color spectrum is safer than the traditional fire engine red.
Even though many statistics show that it is, he brought up a good point: With the lighting options and configurations now available, we can light up the trucks like a Christmas tree!
At my department, we found yellow or amber lights are more visible than the traditional red and white lights. When we specified our trucks, we made it a point to put a simple pair of yellow or amber lights on the back. We found this color to be visible from greater distances than others.
In some aspects, the fire service and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have become more aware of how our lights affect other public drivers. The recent trend is to let others know there is an emergency scene, but not to cause too much distraction because of our lights — especially white lights.
Looking into white lights can cause temporary night blindness, not only for civilian drivers and bystanders, but also for emergency response personnel. For this reason, fire apparatus drivers need to be sensitive when using bright scene lighting, whether halogen or LED. That is why many of the newly manufactured trucks disengage (or turn off) the white lights once the apparatus is placed in park.
We have also seen trends established by NFPA 1901 and the FHWA (23CFR 634) requiring the use of more reflective material on apparatus. It is now required that the whole backside of the truck have a reflective two-color striped pattern. FHWA has required that firefighters or other emergency responders working within the right-of-way of a federal-aid highway and engaged in any other types of operations shall wear high-visibility safety apparel if not wearing their firefighting gear as defined by the rule.
The main goal as always, is to constantly improve safety — not only for our team members, but for the public as well. We do not need to turn an emergency scene into another emergency scene.
When it comes to color selection for your fire trucks, there are various considerations. Sometimes traditional fire engine red is not selected due to the influence of local government council members, politicians and the like. We all need to remember the fire fleet is the rolling stock and an asset that is worth something for any municipality.
Therefore, it is important for municipalities to consider the resale value. If you have any color other than a truck in the red spectrum, it is going to be harder to find someone to buy it.
Let's remember, we are not talking about the $500 paint jobs we can get for our own cars. Even an inexpensive paint job can cost thousands. New owners of used vehicles may not want to invest that type of money when purchasing used apparatus. Most fire departments in this country still prefer red trucks.
In some respects, it comes down to safety versus sales. This issue warrants comprehensive discussion before making a decision. With the use of proper, effective lighting, it's possible that red trucks, which studies show the human eye has more difficulty seeing, can still meet the latest safety findings.
I must admit, red trucks are my sentimental favorite. It just would not be the same to see anything else going down the streets on a call or in a parade, which sparks my fondest childhood memories.
This article was written for & published by MultiBriefs.com.