1. #1
    postal79
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post Blue lights and the publics response to them

    i dont know about anyone else but i feel that blue lights are useless, people dont move for them 90% of the time they look in there rear view see the light and just keep right on going, and without any support form the state with regards to yielding(in new jersey) they will continue to do so...sorry for the confusion everyone.. i was talking about blue lights as in volunteers responding to the fire house
    Your experiences with this?

    [This message has been edited by postal79 (edited 03-15-2001).]

  2. #2
    RS225
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Talking

    well unless you are a police man your trucks should have red and white lights on them. but anyway we had that problem in tennessee for a couple of years and then they passed a state law, if you dont yeild you get stopped , talk to your cheif and ask him to talk to city officals if you want to change the law


    ------------------
    ...fire fetish???......
    ...damn right!!!!

  3. #3
    East Haddam#1firefighter
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    In Connecticut, volunteers can only have blue lights, unless your chief or deputy. At least thats the way it is in my FD. There is a law in Connecticut that was brought to my attention and it clearly states that anyone who fails to yield the right of way to apparatus or any response vehicle (personnal or Departmental) can get a fine or jail time. I believe it is a 50$ fine. For the most part people get out of the way for us. Everyone be safe and always remember to STAY LOW!!!

    ------------------
    Shawn Daigle
    East Haddam F.D.
    East Haddam Connecticut

    [This message has been edited by East Haddam#1firefighter (edited 03-15-2001).]

  4. #4
    RJE
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    From my perspective: In the '70s, the area I lived in was mostly rural. FD was a subscription service. Everyone but the tourists driving through knew we were vollie. Everyone yielded to the blue lights (all that vollies were allowed to run).

    In the '80s, the area experienced exponential growth. What was a mostly rural/bedroom community on the outskirts of a major city became a suburb, heavily developed, both residential and industrial. Many of the newcomers (business and resident) didn't know that they were protected by volunteers (dept. had switched to a tax based FPD). A consequence of this (one of many) was that more and more cars were from "the city" coming out to see our shops - the "small town" became an "antiques mecca". Business owners that didn't live in the district didn't know we were vollies. New residents (urban flight types) didn't know, either. And 1 in 3 cars on the roads were either from other towns or the city, or were commuters just "passing through". Lots of them had never seen a blue light, and didn't know what they were supposed to do when they saw one.

    Of course, at that time the state didn't have a law requiring them to yield (it was a "courtesy light" - requesting, not requiring them to move right and stop!), so it got worse and worse.

    Eventually, the state passed a law where the cops could ticket drivers who failed to yield, just like if the vollies POV/blue light was the apparatus/red lights, and things got a little better.

    But how many times have you actually seen or heard of a cop stopping. They're usually going the same place we are, and blow on by.

  5. #5
    ignition_point
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    In Indiana we run blue lights, however they're about as effective as amber lights on construction vehicles. The public does not have to yield right of way to blue lights in Indiana, and all people using the lights must obey all traffic laws. Personally I hardly use mine, it brings *much* less attention to yourself if you are speeding, and if you do by chance get pulled over for that, they won't know you're a firefighter. If you got caught speeding with your light on, in Indiana its supposed to be an automatic boot from the department. The only good they do for me, is since I live on the border with Kentucky, a lot of KY drivers come over here. In KY the state police use all blues, so when the drivers come over here and see the blue lights the move out of the way . Anywho, like I said I hardly use mine anymore, the fire isn't going anywhere, it will still be there even if you're a couple minutes late.

  6. #6
    Dalmatian90
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Well...the have some value, but I don't worry about it a lot! They yield, they yield, they don't they don't. In fact just got mine repaired...took me a year to get around to putting a new end on the cigarette lighter

    But it does help shave a little bit of time off, especially at red lights where on-coming traffic see it and will yield when the light turns green and I have to make a left hand turn to get to the firehouse.

    Also handy as we do a lot of POV response to scenes and it's handy to for the first person to flag the driveway entrance, and the last person to flag the end of the line of parked cars.

    To clarify EastHaddam's post...he's pretty close to CT law. Chief & top two assistants in volunteer departments may run red & white lights and siren w/permit (i.e. only the 3 highest ranking individuals in the dept may run red lights & sirens on their POVs). Red lights & siren give you legally right away, and permission to ignore certain traffic regulations when safe to do so (such as going wrongway on one-way streets, going through red lights with due regard, etc).

    Blue lights are reserved for volunteer firefighters, but are only a courtesy light and there is no penalty for ignoring it.

  7. #7
    fire boy 038
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    I AM A NEW YORK VOLLY I ALSO HAD THIS SAME PROBLEM. NOW I DON'T. I HAVE A REALY BRITE LIGHTBAR AND SEALED BEAM GRILL LIGHTS.I ALSO HAVE A GREAT IDEAL TRY JUST A ELECTRIC AIR HORN SYSTEM.(NOT A SIREN)GALLS FIRE EQUIPMENT HAVE THEM IN THEIR CATALOG FOR AROUND $100.00 MANY FIREFIGHTERS USE THEM UP HERE.GOOD LUCK AND DONT GIVE UP.

    TOM BRUNELLE


  8. #8
    ltchris
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    I have the same problems as all of you.
    What really seems to work good is get really close to them and hit your horn.
    If that don't work Becarful and go around them.
    Works for me.
    Good luck and stay safe.

    LT chris

  9. #9
    alexff67
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Unhappy

    My blue light sits on my dash of my truck and has only gets used once or twice a year because of two reasons. one I live close to the station or at night if I don't make one of the trucks to let the firepolice know to let me on the scene. It seems like the public either doesn't notice or doesn't care If you only have a blue light.

    ------------------
    Put The Wet Stuff on The Red Stuff

  10. #10
    Rod
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Exclamation

    Illinois is the same as some of the other states in that the blue light is just a courtesy light. And everyone is right, nobody seems to care to get out of the way anymore...unless it is their house then "Damn the Torpedoes" and they want you their yesterday! Some Departments have seen that there is a problem and have addressed the issue. Currently the Illinois General Assembly is considering House Bill 0161. It will allow not only the use of white lights but the use of a siren. And depending on each persons interpretation of the law, it give us the Right of Way

    Stay Safe

  11. #11
    nomad1085
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I live in CT with blue lights as well. Personally, I've never had anyone not pull over, but thats just me. Some people have problems not getting through traffic and some don't. Drivers these days are very very un-observant, and some as just *******s. My lights are bright enough that they can't not see them, and I haven't run into any severe *******s yet. If someone isn't pulling over, don't ride their bumper, if they panic and slam on the brakes, well, you know the rest. Just be careful whatever you do.

    Oh yea, and remember: every state has different laws regarding color of lights and who has to and doesn't have to yield. In CT Vol. Firefighters use blue, but chief officers can use red, white, and sirens.

    [This message has been edited by nomad1085 (edited 03-15-2001).]

  12. #12
    APG1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Looks like that Illinois bill allowing firefighters Wig-Wags (Flashing white lights), blue grill lights (Uhm... these are already legal ) and a siren are going to be allowed for Volly Firefighters. I wonder how easy it will be for EMS/ESDA/Rescue folks to skirt by and use this law too. God knows, I'd kill for wig-wags.

    Blue Light laws in Illinois are kind of ironic. According to the law, police vehicles in towns of 500K (Chicago, St. Louis) are allowed to use solid blue. Does this mean Chicago cops with solid blue lights have courtest lights?

  13. #13
    APG1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    House Sponsors:
    HANNIG-JONES,JOHN-HOLBROOK-MOFFITT-SMITH,MICHAEL AND BOST.

    Short description:
    VEH CD-FLASHING LIGHTS-SIRENS

    Synopsis of Bill as introduced:
    Amends the Illinois Vehicle Code. Provides that a vehicle
    operated by a voluntary firefighter may be equipped with flashing
    white headlights, blue grill lights, and a siren (in addition to blue
    oscillating, rotating, or flashing lights). Provides that this
    additional equipment may be used only in responding to an emergency
    call. Effective immediately.

    Last action on Bill: PLACED CALENDAR ORDER OF FIRST READING 01-02-21

    Last action date: 01-02-20

    Location: Senate

    Amendments to Bill: AMENDMENTS ADOPTED: HOUSE - 0 SENATE - 0

  14. #14
    Looper
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    In Texas, if you runs with lights, you must also have a siren. Police car = fire truck = ambulance = VFD in a POV. Failure to yield right of way to an emergency vehicle is a ticketable offense. As a police officer, I have written several of these.

  15. #15
    LtStick
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Pennsylvania is the same as many other states. A Blue light is a courtesy light and if people don't want to pull over they don't have to. Although one of our members has a very bright small bar light that as blue and white filters in it and he says people seem to move for him. I think some times it might just be a case of visibility. I've seen this light in action and even during the day you can't miss it. Also it also rotates very fast.
    I've also noticed some people don't want to move no matter what color light you have. There have been times we've gone out on a emergency call and some people seem to be deaf and blind and when they do finally decide to pull over its in a very dumb spot like a curve on a two lane highway or you'll get some that decide to speed up.
    I think there a handy thing to have. It is a very useful tool for fire police so people know that there is someone there directing traffic ahead. It gives them extra visibility.

  16. #16
    nomad1085
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    That is another good point I forgot about. Even if NO ONE yielded the right of way while responding, I would want them anyway for safety when my vehicle is parked at a scene. That is also when a little amber is handy if you are allowed to use it.

    Matt

  17. #17
    Dr. Law
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Talking

    Rod and AGP,
    You're not just funning about Illinois, are you?
    Bit of history, used to be that in Ill. you could only have blue lights mounted behind the front seat, so most put them in the rear window deck. We also used to be able to have sirens in personal vehicles, too.
    As for the original post. I see people not noticing us when we are in those big red thingies with the lights, sirens, etc... It is not so much that people don't yield, they just don't look. Sure, some just do not yield, but most will. The problem I have seen from a lot of these posts is one of familiarity. Out east you seem to have lack of support from law enforcement, and lack of public education as to what the lights mean. How about an ad campaign. Show the bozo looking in his rear-view, seeing the light and telling a friend with him that the guy behind is probably late going to lunch or something. Then, at the next block, he turns to see it was his house on fire and he kept the crews from getting to the fire. As he gets out of his car, several firemen run past him while a somebody says "Finally, what kept you?". Then show the look of horror and comprehension come across the clowns face. Cut to narration, "Pull to the right for sirens or lights".

  18. #18
    sloepoke1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    In Ky your red lights and sirens do not give you automatic right away but at the same time the public is required to yeild to emergancy vehicles; police cars, fire engines, and volly p.o.v.s . If caught police can cite the offender but in my area they usually give "friendly" warnings.

  19. #19
    nomad1085
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Very good point, that should apply anywhere. You are never guaranteed the right of way. If you blow through a red light thinking everyone will see you and stop to let you pass, you need to get out of the driver seat. Our state law and dept policy in CT for example, is to slow and approach with caution, proceeding when you have secured the right of way (ie- everyone is stopped or there is no one there anyway). Airhorn, Federal Q, and Whelen Piercer and Yelp are a pretty effective combonation for accomplishing this task.

    A good rule of thumb for driving to a incident or directing traffic is just assume that all other drivers are total MORONS. Most of the time, this does prove true

  20. #20
    cfr3504
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Lightbulb

    Here in Va, blue lights are for law enforcement only. Fire and Rescue use red or red/clear, for apparatus, and POV. In POV, we are allowed to run lights but NO siren or other audible warning device. also according to the law, you can only have two lights on you vehicle, and wig-wags and hide-away strobes are illegal on POV. The lights that we can run on our POV are like some of you said a "courtesy light" asking for right of way, but motorist are not required to yeild by law, and you are not authorized to violate any traffic laws. Of course unless you are doing something stupid, MOST police will not bother you for running a few mph over the limit. In my POV I have red/clear sealed beam halogen grill lights, and a Whelen dual head strobe under the rear-view mirror. BUT I generally don't run both at the same time, because that's 4 lights, and is technically illegal. Sounds like BS huh? Well I think so too, but what can you do?

  21. #21
    hanger44
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    It's no wonder no one pulls over, blue lights are for snow removal equipment!! Sorry guys, in Ontario we use green lights. The story is still the same though. Just remember that they are usually courtesy lights and most motorists (as we all know) are not very courteous. Pulling up behind someone and honking your horn is a bad idea. Not only dangerous but also gives us a bad name.

  22. #22
    Brian Dunlap
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    Postal79...
    I too am from the Great Garden State {Southern End} and encounter the same problems... Like others have said The Blue Light is a Courtesy and there are those that move and those that don't --- I've learned to deal with it --- I agree there should be some kind of law or fines levied on those that don't yield but I believe thats been going on since the late 60's to early 70's when this Blue-Light Thing Started in NJ ---It is evil to say but when the person who failed to move for the blue light has an emergency of thier own the first words out of thier mouth are going to be "What took you So Long" I've herd it before --- Most people even in NJ fail to realize that Fire/EMS is 60 to 70% Volunteers that aren't at the station when the call for help comes

  23. #23
    JD
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    First, look at the NJ Blue Light Law as it's currently written:
    "No more than two blue lights shall be used...If one is used it shall be mounted on the center of the roof; the left windshield column;or the front of the vehicle so that the top of the light is no higher than the top of the vehicle's headlights. If two blue lights are used they shall be mounted on either side of the roof at the front of the vehicle directly behind the top of the windshield; or on each windshield column.The blue lights shall be temporaily attached, removable lights of the flashing or revolving type and shall not exceed seven and one half inches in diameter."
    So ask yourself "does my blue light meet the standard?" Probably not. Therefore any motorist in NJ could contest and probably have any "failure to yield" summons tossed out.
    Second, in fifteen years of volunteering I never have experienced an alarm panel that didn't get reset or even a house fire that wasn't extinguished because I didn't get to the firehouse first. What I'm saying is slow the F down! Every year we hear of volunteers dying in MVA's while responding in their personal vehicles. No call is worth that price.
    Lastly, even if you posses a blue light that is completely legal it still gives you no right to utilize it to intimidate motorists into yielding the right of way. Our job is to protect lives and property, not put them at risk by forcing drivers to the side of the road!
    Trying working to overcome the steroytype of the "crazy blue lighters" by responding with caution and courtesy for those who you've sworn to serve.

  24. #24
    Eng522ine
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    JD... don't forget the 50 candle power limitation!!! I don't even think they make 50 cp lights anymore! But just so you know, the NJ law has changed, if they fail to yeild to your blue light write down their tag number and you can go sign out a "failure to yeild" citation against them. Don't forget though, to do this you must have a valid state permit for your light (unlike most FF's and EMT's that I know). If you want I can get you the number of the ammended statute. Be safe all.

  25. #25
    gov't dawg
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    the use of blue lights has become an out dated and sometimes embarrassing portion of our jobs. Most people don't use them correctly, and can actually do more harm than good. the fire will STILL BE THERE!I have a member of my company live 4 miles from the station and he can beat me there from my home which is three blocks!I have red lights(fm) and i rarely use them. civilliand get confused enough by seeing lights going in opposite directions to the station and to the scene.

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