'Crash Course' Quick Drill Series - Part XIII

A recent safety trend in the U.S. fire service has been to provide a pattern of diagonal striping across the rear of emergency vehicles to increase visibility of the vehicle when it is working in or near moving traffic.Painted traffic markings are used on...


A recent safety trend in the U.S. fire service has been to provide a pattern of diagonal striping across the rear of emergency vehicles to increase visibility of the vehicle when it is working in or near moving traffic.

Painted traffic markings are used on paved roadways throughout the United States to provide guidance and information to motorists and pedestrians. Uniformity of the markings from state to state is an important factor in minimizing confusion and uncertainty about their meaning.

The type, placement, and graphic designs used for traffic signs and pavement markings are legally regulated - the Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) is the standard, although each state produces their own state MUTCD manual based upon the Federal manual.

A recent safety trend in the U.S. fire service has been to provide a pattern of diagonal striping across the rear of emergency vehicles to increase visibility of the vehicle when it is working in or near moving traffic. The diagonal pattern chosen by the fire service is called a chevron. What is important to note is that this pattern is actually defined by the MUTCD as a 'vertical panel' and as such must conform to the MUTCD guidelines.

In the federal MUTCD, Section 6F.61, Vertical Panels, requires that the markings for vertical panels be retro-reflective stripes and that they slope downward at an angle of 45 degrees in the direction vehicular traffic is to pass. This means that any chevron pattern on the back of an emergency vehicle must resemble an upside-down letter 'V' if it is to be in compliance with the federal and state guidelines. If the pattern is 'V' shaped, meaning the stripes converge at the bottom center instead of meeting at the top center, then it is non-compliant. When some citizen runs into the back of one of your rigs out on the highway, you don't want to be called into court to explain why your apparatus had a non-compliant MUTCD vertical panel on it.

The manufacturer of the retro-reflective material is 3M, in St. Paul, MN. The contact person is Rollie Bible, Research Specialist. His email address is rcbible@mmm.com. Although fire departments have a choice of colors, the most visible is red and lime-yellow. The lime-yellow background material is "3M Diamond Grade DG3 Fluorescent Yellow Green Sheeting 4083" (Pronounced "D-G-Cubed"). The red six-inch diagonal stripes: Scotchlite Electronic Cutable Film - 1172 - Red.

Optional treatments for the rear barricade pattern include a 1160 Protective Overlay Film. This is like putting Teflon over the reflective film; it makes it easier to clean. Also specifying an 880i (ink) clear edge seal is recommended. This keeps dirt out of the first row of cells at the edge of the sheeting.

Specs for apparatus chevron striping are available at www.respondersafety.com website for your review.

Crash Course Teaching Point: Apply chevrons to the back of every vehicle in your department that could work in or near moving traffic. Make sure the pattern is an upside-down letter 'V' so it complies with the federal highway standard.

Be Informed...Be Ready...Beware!