Thread: Amber lights?

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    Default Amber lights?

    Does anyone out there know is it part of NFPA 1901 to require an amber rear light on fire apparatus, or can you still get away with only have red rear warning? Personally the amber just makes me instantly think tow-truck or utility.

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    I like them because they are more noticible than the
    solid red. North Carolina does require it on all new
    appartus and ems units.
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    It depends on the lighting configuration. I know if you place a two rotators on the upper zone C with one manufacturer, one must be red and one amber, but when you add an intermediate light to the upper zone c then you can have all red.

    It varies from light manufacturer.

    However, if your state has a specific requirement, such as Iowa must be Red/Blue. Then the state requirement overrides NFPA.

    You need to get Tomar, Whelen, Weldon, Code3, Federal or PowerArc catalog from each of the companies and find out what works for you. Make sure you get thier NFPA approved lighting catalog. They all have one.

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    It all depends on how much light output there is. Red is not as noticeable as amber is. So if there is not enough light output to a certain area, they put the amber on there to make the vehicle compliant for light output.

    If you check with the manufacturer, they may be able to tell you that Brand X is brighter than Brand Z, so you don't have to have the amber......... I know that some places will order the vehicle so it is compliant, then will buy a new filter or lens to change the light to red or whatever color they want after delivery.

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    Remember that NFPA can't make you do anything. If your jurisdiction has adopted NFPA then you have to follow it.

    Lets say that your vehicle is parked at an incident and someone struck you from the rear. It doesn't matter what color lights are on it the person who hit you will be cited for failure to avoid an accident. The lights don't make a difference. If you are worried about liability then place triangles or flares behind the vehicle.

    From personal experience our rigs have an amber arrow stick on the rear. From a distance it looks like a road construction detour and the cars move. So our goal is achieved, good luck and be safe

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    Default Amber to the rear

    Originally posted by ADSNWFLD
    It doesn't matter what color lights are on it the person who hit you will be cited for failure to avoid an accident.
    Just what I was going to say. We had people whining about how "dumb the amber lights are, cuz they look like tow trucks."

    My response: if they are brighter and make you notice them, isn't that all that matters? It's not like we're requesting the right-of-way from traffic approaching from the rear.

    And I think amber stands out in a sea of brakelights... red tends to blend in. Just my "unscientific" thoughts. I'd like to have mostly amber lighting to the back, and if there is any red, have it cut-out when the parking brake is applied, like white cuts-out to the front.
    Last edited by Resq14; 03-12-2003 at 11:24 PM.
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    Remember that NFPA can't make you do anything. If your jurisdiction has adopted NFPA then you have to follow it.
    No, NFPA can't make you do anything, but when some people do the specs, they include that the vehicle must comply to NFPA XXXX standards (1901 I think). If that is included in the specs when it goes to bid and the manufacturer complies with that portion, they will put the amber light on the rear if it is needed to comply with NFPA. People do that so they know the truck complies, and then they will just buy a different color lens/filter to change the amber light to whatever they want.

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    NFPA doesn't require amber, it simply "allows the use of it to the rear". It requires a certain amount of candlepower. You get more candlepower out of an amber strobe than a red one with the same wattage. This is part of the reasoning behind useing the Amber, more bang for your buck. You can satisfy the candlepower requirments with say 2 red and 2 amber strobes (4 total) instead of 6 or 8 red strobes.

    The other reasons being that they cut through the weather a little better, and tend to invoke more of a "caution" attitude in motorists. It just makes sense to use them here and there.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    The New York State Police and several local police agencies did a study with rear facing amber lights. In this study, with one rear facing amber light, rear end collisions were reduced significantly.

    Aside from the obvious (more candle power) there are also psychological differances.

    It was found that red has more of a tendancy to draw people to it where amber with steer people away (amber meaning caution).

    I'm trying to find the article regarding this, I will post the specifics when I do.

    As far as the comments "NFPA can make me do this or that", you're 100% right. I know from personal experience that some manufacturers will not build a vehilce unless it meets (or excedes) NFPA specs.

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    NFPA doesn't require amber, it simply "allows the use of it to the rear". It requires a certain amount of candlepower. You get more candlepower out of an amber strobe than a red one with the same wattage. This is part of the reasoning behind useing the Amber, more bang for your buck. You can satisfy the candlepower requirments with say 2 red and 2 amber strobes (4 total) instead of 6 or 8 red strobes.
    And that is EXACTLY what I was saying........ reread my posts......

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    Your right NFPA is not law. How ever it the only written and accepted industry standards. Up until recently NFPA was not even recognized in Canada. We used ULC Standards at the time and still do. Often now, our apparatus require dual compliance.

    Back to my point. The 1st thing the lawyer's go after is written industry standands. It doesn't matter if your area has accepted these standards or not.

    I just did some advisory work for a dept the was involved in an accident. The apparatus was early 90's and compliant for ULC at the time and upon research was NFPA compliant also for the year of manufacture. The driver claimed that they did not see the apparatus and that the lighting was insufficent to current 1999 NFPA standards. NFPA ment nothing for Fire apparatus in Canada in the early 90's. But it was an accepted written National standard. The Dept lost.

    Accept it or not, when the stuff hits the fan the lawyers will pull out the NFPA standards. You will have to defend you actions toward the none compliance like it or not.

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    I know that all new E-One apparatus are coming out with one red light and one amber light in the rear. Does anyone know if there is like a "grandfather" clause, or do all truck have to comply with the new standard???

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    OK, no one HAS to do anything. The NFPA makes standards which are RECOMENDATIONS for apparatus. You can do whatever your little heart desires. However, it is wise to at least meet and when possible, exceed the specs. Like someone else said, the lawyers will use the standard and say the following:

    "The NFPA are the experts. They say you need at least this much to be effective. You didn't have that so you were negligent in not willingly havening enough light."
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    We have ambers on the rear of the our truck, i think they should be NFPA on them b/c people can see them more then red lights

    Rob aka Squinty

    The Fighting Seventy-Third

    Westville Fire Department
    Gloucester County
    New Jersey

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    Default Amber lights

    I have helped spec many trucks. All maufacturers have to comply with NFPA standards. That being said...new trucks WILL come with an rear facing amber light. You can change it to anything when you take possession. Just like kkk standards stipulate that there must be a front facing clear tunnel light.

    I would be concerned with changing the amber. If you were hit, and that person got a smart enough lawyer, and they researched that NFPA REQUIRES a rear facing amber light, manufacturer delivered it with one, and you changed it. That lawyer could argue that the person didnt see the truck and it didnt have the "required" lighting. I would be willing to bet in many courts they would win and probably get a sizeable settlement.

    Just something to think about.

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    Default Re: Amber lights

    Originally posted by SCOOBY14B
    If you were hit, and that person got a smart enough lawyer, and they researched that NFPA REQUIRES a rear facing amber light
    No they do not. They ALLOW it to be used but it does not require there to be amber in order to meet specs. It can be all red as long as the candle power requirements are met.

    Now, that said, everything else you wrote still holds true. There is plenty of good reason to use amber and changing it to red would be extremely foolish and fresh meat for lawyers to make a case with.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    The way I interpreted it was that it was required. But that s my take. But Sutphen and Luverne told me the same thing

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    So a question I have still lingers... why would you want to keep it all red?
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    Why keep it all red? This how the fire service unfortunately works sometimes and it was the first thing I learned on the first day of FFI. "The fire serive. Hundreds of years of tradition unhampered by progress". In other words, because they have always been red, why change it now. It is dumb but some people think like that.

    NFPA Color Allowances and restrictions-


    Red: Any zone, any time
    Blue: Any zone, any time
    Amber: Any zone except 'front' while moving. Any zone while stopped
    Clear: Any zone except rear while moving. NO USE while stopped.

    So, as you can see, they will allow you to use any combination of the above. Hell, it doesn't even need to be red, but that happens to be the dominent color in the fire service. You do not HAVE to use amber anywhere, but you can if you want too and it dictates where and when it is allowed.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    We recently had an apparatus reurbished. New lighting was part of the project. The manufacturer advised us that if we wanted to NFPA compliant a yellow light needed to be placed on the back of the apparatus. You are correct it is not law, however it makes you compliant it's worth looking into. I agree yellow is not usually associated with an emergency vehicle. We decided to take it with the the yellow light and if we didn't like it we'd change the lens after delivery. One we got it we were amazed how bright the yellow is compared to red or blue. We decided to kepp the yellow lense in place and are considering changing the other apparatus to match to protect our pesonnel. You have to see it to believe it!

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    Ok as stated earlier you don't have to have yellow at the back. You do need to have a very specific Candle Power from each area. Each light manufacture has to certify the lighting package to NFPA. Generally if your upper warning in the rear is only 2 lamp you are going to need fast rotators and 1 red and 1 yellow. IF you Run 2 Reds you can make up the short fall by adding a arrowstick or signal master to make the candela's. You could also use Mini bars left and right to make the candela's.

    There are a lot of ways the manufactures have certified NFPA lighting compliance. The Cheapest and most effective is 1 single fast red, 1 single fast yellow.

    As far a red being traditionalist. You have to look at your DOT laws. for each area. Just because NFPA says you can use blue or purple does not mean you can. Remember that little, authority having jurisdiction rule.

    Here in AB Canada we cannot use blue or amber in our warning on fire apparatus while responding. White and Red only. So by law we need 2 reds in the back upper while responding. But we are allowed a signal master or arrow stick. So most will add these to meet NFPA candela's.

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    Correct - It all has to due with light output certifications. Nfpa claims this be can be done by one of three means:

    1) The specific light manuafacturer certifies the light package for the zone.

    2) The light manufacturers list the candlepower, etc of each of there products and the truck builder can perform a mathmatical calculation to make sure it meets. (Which no one can do, because the light companies will not release there figures for the calculations)

    3) The truck builder can buy the testing equipment, build a dark room, and certify the lighting themselves. (Which no one does due to the high cost)

    So we are all at the mercy of the Light companies and there requirements, unless:

    1) You can find a truck manufacturer that does not care about NFPA.

    2) Your state has other requirements that override NFPA.

    So get the NFPA Lighting package books from each light manufacturer and figure out what works for you. Or your state requirements. Or just change them and take the risk of ever being sued.

    By the way. Did you know that there are SEVEN states that recognize NFPA as a REQUIREMENT, not a recommendation. Try to tell a lawyer that the NFPA 1901 standard is only a recommendation and see how far it gets you.

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    I think New Jersey doesnt allow blue lights on fire app.

    That is what i heard before
    dont take my word on it
    Rob aka Squinty

    The Fighting Seventy-Third

    Westville Fire Department
    Gloucester County
    New Jersey

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    Looked at some of my info from specing previous trucks. According to my information. In order to be NFPA compliant you MUST have an amber light on the rear of apparatus. This can include an amber lightstick.

    nmfire:

    It is not a law, but NFPA goes beyond "allowing" it, they do in fact require it to be NFPA compliant.

    To me it would be counter productive to remove any amber lighting on the rear of the truck. Our new engines have the following on the rear:
    2 rotators - 1 amber, 1 red
    4 led lightheads - 2 amber, 2 red (the red LED's are actually brighter)
    2 - Federal strobe lightheads
    1 - LED amber arrowstick
    Led's are the way of the future. Our new ladder is total LED with 38 lightheads, plus turns, brakes, etc.

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    I think New Jersey doesnt allow blue lights on fire app.
    What does blue lights have to do with this thread. The discussion is on AMBER lights! Nobody questioned any use of blue lights, as I'm sure everyone knows what primary colors (red white blue or combinations) their state does/does not allow........

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