1. #1
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    Default NYS Blue Light Laws

    NYS firefighters-

    I am curious to know about all of your volunteer depts' policies on Blue lights. I ask b/c there generally seems to be a pretty big difference between what the law says and what most people do. The way I read the law, it basically says you can have ONE blue light. Most firefighters I know, however, have at least a couple of blue lights, anything from a dash light and grill lights to a lightbar, etc.
    Most depts in my area allow their members to use anything they want, as long as its blue. Some restrict blue lightbar use, but allow multiple dash and grill lights. My department has always been one of the more stricter departments, and it appears we will soon be the only dept in the area to enforce the blue light issue to the letter of the law.
    Frankly, this annoys me. I never abuse the light priveledge, but after mounting a dash light, deck light and grill lights, I would like to be able to use them. I'd like to know what others think about this issue- do most other depts enforce the law as strictly as mine does? What are other firefighters thoughts on this?

    Be Safe,

    Karl
    Karl Neubecker
    Firefighter/EMT/PA-C
    Ellington, CT

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    Karl,

    New York State has taken a big step toward supporting the Volunteer Fire Service. They have enacted legislation that reserved the Blue Light exclusivly for use by volunteer firefightera. It is up to us as the members of the volunteer fire service to support New York State by adhering to the law as best we can. I have been a Volunteer Fire Fighter for 25 years. I went through the phase where I had to have a roof light, dash light, grill lights and any other light you can think of. We can look like the blue light parade going down the road or we can look like a volunteer firefighter requesting the right of way. It is up to us. Please try to understand the reason for the legislation and how the fire servie in NYS is trying to get compliance with the revised laws. We must remember to act as proffesionals at all times. The opposite of Professional is Amateur. I know that no member of the Volunteer Fire Service in NYS wants to think of themselves as amateurs. Act in a professional manor and you will be treated as such. It dosen't matter how many lights you have on your vehicle.

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    Default bluelight

    I dont think most departments make a big deal of the whole bluelight deal. I dunno about the way cars react to you driving behind them but 50% DONT MOVE! but when theres more lights they do =}

    But anyway to stay on your subject, my fire dept doesnt make a big deal of them, and im just a little ways away from you over in Mahopac Falls in Putnam.

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    NYS policy is that you can have one light per say. but they rarely enforce it. In my community there is a generaly good respect for the fire companies so they dont enforce the codes. The only one they do is no speeding, running lights or reckless driving. Also the law says that you cannot run a light that is is excess of 90 candle power and more than one rotater. The law says nothing of strobing lights. Unfortunitly, 90 candle power cant even be seen during the day more than 20ft in front. I run a light that has 50k candlepower, 2 rotaters and 420fpm and Im in a suburban area. The rural ones in my are run full size light bars. Needless to say, no one realy cares unless you abuse it.

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    if you dig into the laws of nys and the commissioner of motor vehicles, it does state in there that lights "such as strobes" are prohibited for use by volunteer firemen (blue) or a volunteer ambulance (green) member.

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    Default NYS Consolidated Laws - Vehicle & Traffic

    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/nycodes/c128/a17.html

    Section 375. Equipment.

    4. Blue light. One blue light may be affixed to any motor vehicle
    owned by a volunteer member of a fire department or on a motor vehicle owned by a member of such personís family residing in the same household or by a business enterprise in which such person has a proprietary interest or by which he or she is employed, provided such volunteer firefighter has been authorized in writing to so affix a blue light by the chief of the fire department or company of which he or she is a member, which authorization shall be subject to revocation at any time by the chief who issued the same or his or her successor in office. Such blue light may be displayed exclusively by such volunteer firefighter on such a vehicle only when engaged in an emergency operation. The use of blue and red light combinations shall be prohibited on all fire vehicles. The use of blue lights on fire vehicles shall be prohibited and the use of blue lights on vehicles shall be restricted for use only by a volunteer firefighter as provided for in this paragraph.


    NOTE: The Chief of the department must authorize the use of the light, subject to "revocation at any time by the chief who issued"

    Quite basically, my department uses pretty much uses dash lights like a "dash laser" exclusively... if they try to put a full sized light bar up, I just don't sign the blue light card. They abuse the light, i.e. I get complaints, see stuff I shouldn't be seeing... I pull the card
    Chief Jim Bator
    www.hopewellfire.org

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    Default Blue Lights

    nbfcfireman

    New York Codes, Rules and Regulations
    Title 15 Motor Vehicles
    Chapter 1 Commissioner's Regulations
    Part 44 Colored Lights

    44.4 (k) (2):
    Such light may not have a light source greater than 32 candlepower
    westofd

    New York Codes, Rules and Regulations
    Title 15 Motor Vehicles
    Chapter 1 Commissioner's Regulations
    Part 44 Colored Lights

    44.4 (m) :
    Lights that give off blinding flashes, such as strobe lights ARE prohibited
    ************************************************** ********************

    You are correct that many local Police Agencies do not enforce these sections, but depending on where you are, some Police Agencies do enforce them. In a neighboring city, from where I live, which has a Paid Department, some of the local PD have tendencies to stop the Volunteers passing through the city. The city is surrounded by Volunteer Departments, who, on occasion, have been called into the city on mutual aid. Most of the time it depends on your driving habits. The Blue Light is only a courtesy light and gives no one any special priviledges.
    "The uniform is supposed to say something about you. You get it for nothing, but it comes with a history, so do the right thing when you're in it."
    Battalion Chief Ed Schoales
    from 'Report from Ground Zero' pg 149
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    Default

    the 32 candlepower limit was rescinded awhile back by the way

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    Default Bluelight Laws

    We use all types of lights from southern vps to fully decked out mx7000's. As far as I have read and been advised by a police officer if I see you at night and it looks like 1 light it is legal. No where does it say you cannot run barlights, I have found time and time again they much more visible. After all now any blulight must be visible 360 degrees. How is a dash laser visible for 360 degrees?








    J. Vandermark
    FF and Fire officer
    Water recue team Memeber
    Upstate NY

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    It completely depends on the law enforcment in your area. Up here we're governed by teh State Police. They don't say anything about dash lights although they are technically illegal. we have some guys with full lightbars, which I've never seen anyone say is illegal (although the candlepower rule would apply to those) but SPLIT bar lights are...if there's a place for a speaker in the middle or a strobe w/ a black stripe down the middle.
    I use a minibar light. Works pretty well. I don't see the need for anything bigger unless you're a Chief/Asst Chief/Lt./or Rescue to need a barlight, and even then only a Chief or Asst Chief. But that's just my opinion

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    I am just waiting to use my light because I have less than a month till I am 18 and my chief wont ok a light untill then. Right now my blue firebeam with mirror is sitting on the shelf in my room.

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    What is up with the syracuse police department putting a blue lense on their strobe bar. Last time I checked the law prohibits that right. Anyone with an answer?

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    Originally posted by tshayes
    What is up with the syracuse police department putting a blue lense on their strobe bar. Last time I checked the law prohibits that right. Anyone with an answer?
    It's not just Syracuse PD that does this. There are numerous PD's down here in southern New York on a local and county level that have blues in their light bars. Some have taken them off in recent years, most have not.

    You are absolutely right, a recent law signed by Govenor Pataki prohibits blue lights on any motor vehicle other than personal vehicles operated by volunteer firefighters. Maybe the police agencies that use the blues feel that their above the law and who's to stop them. I don't know that this is true, I can only speculate.

    One thing that we can do is pressure the politicians overseeing these agencies to end this practice. It can't be done alone. One or two individuals won't do it. There is true meaning to the term "strength in numbers". It has to be done with as many people as possible. Either by petition, or appearing at the board meetings of that particular municipality (whether it be on a county, town or village level). These people are the law makers and the hiarchey of these police agencies. They are often the commisioners of these agencies. The one's that appoint a commisioner can have him end this practice.

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    Default SFDchief

    One thing that we can do is pressure the politicians overseeing these agencies to end this practice. It can't be done alone. One or two individuals won't do it. There is true meaning to the term "strength in numbers". It has to be done with as many people as possible. Either by petition, or appearing at the board meetings of that particular municipality (whether it be on a county, town or village level). These people are the law makers and the hiarchey of these police agencies. They are often the commisioners of these agencies. The one's that appoint a commisioner can have him end this practice.
    This is where (in NY State) the Sectional Volunteer Firemen's Associations should petition FASNY to pressure the State politicians.
    I know for a fact that FASNY (Firemen's Association of the State of New York) and the State Chief's Association has fought hard to keep the Blue Light for Volunteer Firefighters only. It also seems that if Pataki has signed this law, those police agencies who have abused it should be reprimanded, and/or have their State Funding denied.
    It would seem to me that an agency who disobeys the law would be hard pressed to enforce the law.
    "The uniform is supposed to say something about you. You get it for nothing, but it comes with a history, so do the right thing when you're in it."
    Battalion Chief Ed Schoales
    from 'Report from Ground Zero' pg 149
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    Syracuse has never had blue before untill recently. I have no clue why but I herd there was some stupid study about the effectiveness of blue strobes. What are they going to do, take away our lights and give us amber, or worse purple.

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    Originally posted by tshayes
    Syracuse has never had blue before untill recently. I have no clue why but I herd there was some stupid study about the effectiveness of blue strobes. What are they going to do, take away our lights and give us amber, or worse purple.
    First off, if it's a study regarding safety, it's not stupid. There have been studies that show blue lights are more visible under adverse weather conditions. I will not dispute that by any means. This is similar to the principle with ambers per NFPA on fire apparatus. Studies have shown that rear end collisions are reduced significantly due to this.

    Regardless of the positiveness of these studies, per NY State V&T Laws, it is illegal for these police agencies to use them.

    However, there are few exceptions where police agencies can legally use blue in New York State. One is marine units (police boats). Under maritime law there are provisions for police to use blues. The only land exception that I'm familiar with is the NY/NJ Port Authority Police. To my knowledge they are allowed due to being an interstate police agency with interstate operations on a regular basis.

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    Default blue light laws

    I look at it like this: Out on Long Island, People don't move for the rigs. I have a single tear drop light. On L.I. you pretty much have to scream and yell for people to move. I have seen personal vehicles have more lights than an Iron Maiden Concert. Its overkill, but If it gets people to move..Then so be it.

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    Default Re: blue light laws

    Originally posted by ExCaptainENG1
    I look at it like this: Out on Long Island, People don't move for the rigs. I have a single tear drop light. On L.I. you pretty much have to scream and yell for people to move. I have seen personal vehicles have more lights than an Iron Maiden Concert. Its overkill, but If it gets people to move..Then so be it.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    I agree 1,000,000,000,000 % with that ex-capt. I used to have a dual strobe on my front windsheild(one blue one clear) people never moved, now I spent like $600 on LED's and people STILL don't move. It certainly seems that people just don't care. My LED's are 1: three space one w/ blue on the outer and white on the inside one, and 2: a smaller one w/ just blue and white, the small one is placed DIRECTLY behind my mirror, so people could see it, but yet they still don't move. It's all a question of, who wants to be nice now a days.

    OH and P.S. I am from Long Island too is how I know.

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    NB1FD605

    LED's are 1: three space one w/ blue on the outer and white on the inside one, and 2: a smaller one w/ just blue and white,
    Last I knew, Long Island was in New York State, where running Blue and White lights in combination is illegal.
    Last edited by AFD368; 05-08-2003 at 06:36 AM.
    "The uniform is supposed to say something about you. You get it for nothing, but it comes with a history, so do the right thing when you're in it."
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    I go to OCC college in NY and I see people running blue and white strobess al the time even though they are illegal. Look at the code3 dashlaser. It is supposed to be blue but it comes out clear and blue. Nothing you can do about that. Atleast they arnt running clear on bar lights.

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    Originally posted by tshayes
    Look at the code3 dashlaser. It is supposed to be blue but it comes out clear and blue. Nothing you can do about that. Atleast they arnt running clear on bar lights.
    Clear is clear, whether it's on a light bar, in a dash light, grill lights or wig wags. Anywhere there is a clear flashing light (that includes flashing your headlights manually, it is illegal. If you have a dashlaser that comes out clear and blue there is something you can do about it. Don't use it.

    There's another thread somewhere in these forums about police illegaly using blue lights in New York. If we want to change this practice, we have to start enforcing ourselves with the law.

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    I used to use a firebeam with mirror in blue which is truly blue and now I have moved the rotator to my roof and have a whelen talon LED dashlight coming which is all blue. You dont need to brake the law to get attention. I see a lot of whelen dashmisers in NY split one blue and one clear. That is illegal and I see no point in it.

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    Thanks for everybody sharing their opinions about all of this. It is certainly interesting to hear how different departments and ff's handle blue light enforcement. As I said in my first post, my department is now enforcing the one blue light law, but the kicker is they are doing it selectively. Everybody was told that since the law says one blue light, everyone must follow the law, EXCEPT for fire police, since they respond to the scene. Gotta love enforcing the law and then changing it to suit your interest.
    Anyway, my brother from SFD mentioned that flashing your headlights is illegal. I'm curious to know why he thinks this- Since all cars as equiped to flash your headlights to get the attention of other drivers, why would it be illegal to do when responding (not talking about wig-wags or auto flashers here- just flashing your headlights normally)?
    And just as a reminder, everyone who uses a strobe light (including myself), is breaking the law. Same goes for LED, since it flashes in a "strobe-like pattern," which is illegal according to the latest NYS laws.

    Karl

    PS- as a member of a department that used to have several people use a combo of white and blue lenses, we actually had several troopers and local cops tell us they liked the combo because it grabbed more attention. But as most people have already pointed out, nobody pulls over anyway.
    Karl Neubecker
    Firefighter/EMT/PA-C
    Ellington, CT

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    Originally posted by ksneubec

    Anyway, my brother from SFD mentioned that flashing your headlights is illegal. I'm curious to know why he thinks this- Since all cars as equiped to flash your headlights to get the attention of other drivers, why would it be illegal to do when responding (not talking about wig-wags or auto flashers here- just flashing your headlights normally)?


    This, like most laws, is a matter of interpretation. The blue light law does not refer to flashing headlights. However, the red and white light section states that red and white lights may only be affixed to authorized emergency vehicles.

    If you are "just flashing your headlights normally", that's one thing (more on that later). I was refering to individuals that flash their headlights as if they had auto flashers.

    I know in most new vehicles you are able to flash your headlights. I do not know anyone that drives down that does this on a regular basis. What is a driver indicating when he is flashing his headlights on a normal basis? The road rage driver that gets stuck behind a slow poke on Route 35 during rush hour? I know people that flash their headlights in lieu of waving with one finger. But is that legal?

    Unrelated, I find it interesting that local troopers and police officers like the idea of blue and white combos. In another nearby locale, some of the volunteer firefighters don't display any blue lights due to the harassment they get from the cops. Personally, I wouldn't have a problem with it. My views here are based on my personal interpretation of NYS V&T Laws.
    Last edited by SFDchief; 05-11-2003 at 04:36 PM.

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    Question Blue light card and new chief?

    On a bit of a tangent, my department has a new chief and I was wondering if I needed to get a new blue light card from the new chief or if the old one is still sufficient?

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