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Thread: History behind the color blue for Rescue

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    Default History behind the color blue for Rescue

    So I know the "heavy rescue" concept in the fire service originated with FDNY back around 1915, but does anyone have information as to why the color blue was chosen to represent the Rescue?

    I know not every Department uses blue, but, on the East Coast it seems most of the city departments which run a Rescue Company (or Companies) use blue to represent it in some form or fashion. Anyone know why? I've searched, can't find it.

    Thanks for your help...

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    Blue is usually used for EMS. Baltimore uses blue I think for line officers. We use red for rescue companies helmets. Blue for prevention.

    Some rescue companies use green to id the members.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptOldTimer View Post
    Blue is usually used for EMS. Baltimore uses blue I think for line officers. We use red for rescue companies helmets. Blue for prevention.

    Some rescue companies use green to id the members.
    Not exactly true. Take a look at;

    FDNY
    Newark, NJ
    Jersey City, NJ
    North Hudson NJ
    Wilmington, DE (when they had a Rescue)
    Camden, NJ (when they had a Rescue)
    Cambridge, Mass
    Heck even DCFD uses a big blue "1" for Rescue 1.

    FDNY guys, any idea?

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    Buffalo, Rochester, and Yonkers use blue, but Syracuse does green. Maybe its a Rust Belt thing

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDGloWorm View Post
    Not exactly true. Take a look at;

    FDNY
    Newark, NJ
    Jersey City, NJ
    North Hudson NJ
    Wilmington, DE (when they had a Rescue)
    Camden, NJ (when they had a Rescue)
    Cambridge, Mass
    Heck even DCFD uses a big blue "1" for Rescue 1.

    FDNY guys, any idea?
    Camden still has, and never did not have a Rescue, and yes- white 1's on blue frontpieces for FF's, and a blue 1 on a white frontpiece for Captains.

    All of DCFD's rescues use blue.

    All of FDNY's rescues are blue. Rescue 3 is "Big Blue." Rescue 5 is "Blue Thunder."

    (Philadelphia Rescue 1 is orange 1's on black helmets, but they have salad bowls and no frontpieces. Their nickname is Recall 1.)
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    Was that a shot across the bow towards Philly?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Camden still has, and never did not have a Rescue, and yes- white 1's on blue frontpieces for FF's, and a blue 1 on a white frontpiece for Captains.

    All of DCFD's rescues use blue.

    All of FDNY's rescues are blue. Rescue 3 is "Big Blue." Rescue 5 is "Blue Thunder."

    (Philadelphia Rescue 1 is orange 1's on black helmets, but they have salad bowls and no frontpieces. Their nickname is Recall 1.)
    As of this past March when I stopped by Camden, the Rescue was cross-staffed by members of a Ladder Company, they lost it as a full time unit. Did they get full time staffing back recently for the Rescue?

    Yes, I know about FDNY (see above). I was wondering though, does anyone know why blue was chosen in the beginning?

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    Quote Originally Posted by nameless View Post
    Buffalo, Rochester, and Yonkers use blue, but Syracuse does green. Maybe its a Rust Belt thing
    Thanks! I'll add those to my list of cities that use blue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Up&Over View Post
    Was that a shot across the bow towards Philly?
    Negative, always has been and always will be my favorite Department. Spent many a night riding with Rescue 1 on the D way back in the day when you could get away with it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDGloWorm View Post
    As of this past March when I stopped by Camden, the Rescue was cross-staffed by members of a Ladder Company, they lost it as a full time unit. Did they get full time staffing back recently for the Rescue??
    Ok yes I had completely forgotten about that. Rescue 1 and 2 Truck currently cross-staffed. My bad.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Ok yes I had completely forgotten about that. Rescue 1 and 2 Truck currently cross-staffed. My bad.
    No biggie, I had my fingers crossed that they got it back.

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    Add Henrico County, VA and Powhatan County, VA to the list for blue shield inserts to ID the rescue companies.

    I haven't a clue beyond the 100-year history of the blue color though!
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    Add Henrico County, VA and Powhatan County, VA to the list for blue shield inserts to ID the rescue companies.

    I haven't a clue beyond the 100-year history of the blue color though!
    Me either!! The best I can find, goes back to 1836 when red and black was used (no reason though) to identify Ladders and Engines.

    Around 1915, Rescue One went in service in FDNY, and for some gosh darn reason used blue!! You know, it's probably something as simple as the old Cairns Brothers only had black, white, red and blue paint on hand. Since the other three were already being used, they used what they had!! Here I am looking for some reason, and this very well could be the explanation...hahaha!

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    Maybe whoever was involved in organizing the company liked the color blue.
    dfwfirefighter likes this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nameless View Post
    Maybe whoever was involved in organizing the company liked the color blue.
    Yup, could be that simple.

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    This seems like something that Paul Hashagen (FDNY R1, ret) would know, or could find out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    This seems like something that Paul Hashagen (FDNY R1, ret) would know, or could find out.
    Excellent suggestion...you have contact with him?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    Add Henrico County, VA and Powhatan County, VA to the list for blue shield inserts to ID the rescue companies.

    I haven't a clue beyond the 100-year history of the blue color though!
    Add Osceola County, Fla as well.


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    Quote Originally Posted by nameless View Post
    Maybe whoever was involved in organizing the company liked the color blue.
    I kinda lean that way myself.

    Besides, despite all the stories about why we use red for our trucks (danger, fire, etc), I tend to believe the version that says it was because at one point red was the most expensive paint, so if you painted your rig red, you were, in effect, showing off...
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDGloWorm View Post
    So I know the "heavy rescue" concept in the fire service originated with FDNY back around 1915, but does anyone have information as to why the color blue was chosen to represent the Rescue?

    I know not every Department uses blue, but, on the East Coast it seems most of the city departments which run a Rescue Company (or Companies) use blue to represent it in some form or fashion. Anyone know why? I've searched, can't find it.

    Thanks for your help...
    Because red and black were already taken.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    I kinda lean that way myself.

    Besides, despite all the stories about why we use red for our trucks (danger, fire, etc), I tend to believe the version that says it was because at one point red was the most expensive paint, so if you painted your rig red, you were, in effect, showing off...
    Judging by the way some agencies buy their trucks, the tradition is alive and well.

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