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    Default fire house lights

    i recently had a fire history question posed to me that i can't find an answer for. the question was, "what color were the lights on the front of fire houses and what did the colors signify?". i believe they were red and green, but i haven't been able to find anything to tell me if i'm right or wrong or what the colors signify. if anyone can help me i would greatly appreciate it.

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    There is a department near by that has red and green lights. I believe its that the green light means that truck is there and a red light means that truck is out on a run. I think its like that since one time I went past there station and all the trucks that were still there had a green light on next to each bay door and the ones gone had red lights on. Dont know if its like that everywhere though. I guess they do that to help the volunteers know which trucks they still might need to get out the door. JUST MY GUESS!!!
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    I always thought it was a tradition thing from sailors who were firefighters.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Originally posted by nmfire
    I always thought it was a tradition thing from sailors who were firefighters.
    That's one of the theories why Chicago FD apparatus all have one green light on the front. It's always on the officers side, which would be starboard on a ship. It goes along with the theory that the black over red coloring was based on the colors of a shipping fleet one of the Chiefs formerly worked for (red hull with black superstructure).
    Chris Gaylord
    Emergency Planner / Fire Captain, UC Santa Cruz FD

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    Originally posted by SafetyPro


    That's one of the theories why Chicago FD apparatus all have one green light on the front. It's always on the officers side, which would be starboard on a ship. It goes along with the theory that the black over red coloring was based on the colors of a shipping fleet one of the Chiefs formerly worked for (red hull with black superstructure).
    I think the black over red is in rememberance of fallen firefighters.

    Here's the deal on the green lights I found searching earlier threads:

    Originally posted by LANSING T 107
    Alrighty folks, here is the deal on the 'running lights' on the Chicago (and Chicago land) area rigs...

    Back in the day, Commissioner Albert Goodrich (1927-1931) had a nautical background. He applied the marine scheme (red light = port/driver, green light = starboard/officer) to fire apparatus, and the idea became a tradition of the department. It is also used to mark the bay doors at most Chicago fire stations.

    Today, most rigs in the City of Chicago and countless other dept's have 'running' lights of red and green on the rigs as well as red and green lights out side the station.

    There are many different ways to display these lights and every dept/co. does it their own way.
    FTM-PTB-DTRT

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    Maybe the red light means "DON'T BACK INTO THE STATION! THE DOORS AREN'T UP YET" and green means "IT'S SAFE TO BACK IN NOW!".

    Makes sense doesn't it?

    *Mark
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    I read on a web site about the history of the CFD that the black over red came from an order of Chiefs cars that were purchased in the late 20's or early 30's. They came with black tops, and the then Chief liked it so much he had all new apparatus painted the same and it stuck. And yes, the red/green light thing was due to a Cheif having been in the navy (or merchant marine).

    I love the black over red, just too hot for FLA...

    Dave

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    Originally posted by Dave1983
    I love the black over red, just too hot for FLA...

    Dave
    Tell that to Orlando FD.
    Chris Gaylord
    Emergency Planner / Fire Captain, UC Santa Cruz FD

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    Default What I know/heard...

    From what I know...The red lights in front of a station
    is only to signal that "this is a fire station."

    All I have ever heard. In Cali, you will only see red
    lights here.

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    I've heard the red and green thing also being from the marine industry/navy.....

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    well Moe checked and this (as like everything else) has been debated before ..........it is too bad we cant get stuff categorized to make looking them back up easier for the repeat questions.
    Last edited by Weruj1; 02-27-2004 at 10:31 PM.
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    I think the lights are to keep the ghost out of the firehouses. But i ain't scared.

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    Nope........... just like Motel 6............. We'll leave the light on for ya.........

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    Back in the day when pumpers were run by steam, costal towns had ship engineers run the steam pumpers. When an engineer was in the firehouse he would hang his lantern outside the station.
    So the fireservice has many traditions that are nautical. The red and green lights on the rigs and station came from that.
    Dave1983 is correct about Chicago's roof color.

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    Originally posted from CALFFBOU From what I know...The red lights in front of a station is only to signal that "this is a fire station."
    Except in the case of the Keyes Fire Protection District then you begin to wonder...
    Always remember the CHARLESTON 9

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    Red and Green Lights; Black and Red Paint

    Commissioner Albert Goodrich (1927-1931) had a nautical background. He applied the marine scheme (red light = port, green light = starboard) to fire apparatus, and the idea became a tradition of the department. It is also used to mark the bay doors at most Chicago fire stations.
    The origin of the black-over-red paint scheme is more obscure. The most reliable sources (memories of a retired CFD member) are that the first closed-cab chief's cars had black canvas tops which would not take paint. Someone among the brass liked the appearance, so as closed-cab apparatus came onto the roster, the cab was painted black. The first closed cabs were White Motors chemical and pressure wagons, for which the enclosures were built by the shops. The first factory-built closed cab units were Mack sedan engines, and they were delivered in black over red. The second most-likely explanation is that the Goodrich line used a red over black scheme, which he transferred to the fire department.

    (courtesy of Tim Vermande)

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    I thought it meant that the keg was tapped if the light was green. If it was red it was an EMERGENCY!

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    Quote Originally Posted by CESNAP View Post
    i recently had a fire history question posed to me that i can't find an answer for. the question was, "what color were the lights on the front of fire houses and what did the colors signify?". i believe they were red and green, but i haven't been able to find anything to tell me if i'm right or wrong or what the colors signify. if anyone can help me i would greatly appreciate it.
    The red light on the front of the station was from the railroad era. When the engine pulled into the station, the engineer would perform his tasks such as filling the water. The fireman would often go into town to visit, and always took a Red lantern to hang in front of what ever place he was in. Sometimes these places were houses of shady ladies and were sometimes called the "Red light district" because of the red lantern in front. When the Engineer and train were ready to leave,and his fireman was not back he always knew where to find him...

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    I always thought a blue light out front marked the building as a firehouse...

    We have a blue light always on and an orange light that turns on when the furnace is running.

    Both of these lights have been there for as long as I can remember.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fire40man View Post
    I think the lights are to keep the ghost out of the firehouses. But i ain't scared.
    Doesn't work.

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    my firehouse doesn't have an red or green lights out front

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    Our HQ station and Station 3 has red, yellow and green lights outside of the stations.. they are called traffic control signals!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    We have white lights out the front - it helps people see that there's a building there...
    "Professional" means your attitude to the job...

    Nullus Anxietas ..... (T Pratchett)

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    Quote Originally Posted by SafetyPro View Post
    That's one of the theories why Chicago FD apparatus all have one green light on the front. It's always on the officers side, which would be starboard on a ship. It goes along with the theory that the black over red coloring was based on the colors of a shipping fleet one of the Chiefs formerly worked for (red hull with black superstructure).
    Actually, CFD used green (at least in part) because state law reserved blue for law enforcement in cities over 500,000 people (a way to specify Chicago). The law allowed CPD to run only blue lights, where as the rest of the state PDs operated with red/blue. The law may have changed since, but the tradition is in place.
    My comments are sometimes educated, sometimes informed and sometimes just blowing smoke...but they are always mine and mine alone and do not reflect upon anyone else (especially my employer).

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    Obviously many of you don't you know with NIMS we are going to have to standardize this. We can't have all these variations!

    Sorry, couldn't resist.
    FTM-PTB-RFB
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