Thread: Amber beacons

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    Default Amber beacons

    My Dept. has started to put amber warning beacons on the rear of the trucks. My question is what side of the truck are different depts. putting them on (driver's side vs. passenger's side) and the reasons.
    I've seen them on either side and was wondering what is better/correct.

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    All the trucks around here have two on the rear of the truck, for better visibility from all angles I suppose.
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    In California they have a law that states it must be on the R hand side......not sure about anywhere else.
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    firefighter3531
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    I belive that it is NFPA standard for the right rear to have a amber becon on it now. I know we bought 15 pumpers this past yr and they came with them on there.We told them NFPA lighting package so that is where i am coming up with my 2 cents

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    When we ordered our aerial platform in '98 we were told it was NFPA to have an amber rotator on the right rear corner.

    We ordered our new CAFS engine in 2002 and we were told that it had to have an amber rotator on the left corner. It showed up w/ the amber on the right corner, along with a full page of other problems.

    We eventually ended up getting a loaner engine from the same company while our engine was getting fixed, and it had no amber rotators, just an amber directional bar. I am guessing that as long as you have the directional in back, you don't have to have the amber on top? I am not sure if it is NFPA, but i actually like the directional better than just having an amber rotator anyways.

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    NFPA divides the lights into upper and lower levels, and into 4 quadrants. 1901 has all the info you need. Some colors are not alowed (per NFPA) on certain areas of the vehicle. For example amber shouldn't be visable from the front, No white at the rear, No white in front in blocking mode.
    NFPA is a recommendation not the law. make sure your rig complies with your state law 1st. Their is good evidence that a lot of emergency lights draw drunken drivers towards your vehicle, causing accidents. So be realistic with the warning lights.
    Did we get hit more when our rigs had a few flashers and one rotator? I know traffic is heavier now then 20 years ago, but we don't have good scientific evidence that the increase in lights make any difference.
    Look at the rigs in Europe they have light packages that look more like us in 1970 and they do just fine.

    Anyway, look to your state law 1st. Our rigs use the arrow stick as our rear amber.

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    Older engine and quint have amber becaons on the right rear .
    The new engine has all red with the exception of an amber direction arrow

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    While doing research on the lighting systems for our three newest apparatus I learned a few things. NFPA does not require the color amber for rear warning. What it does require is a certain amount of light (candlepower) be produced in the upper zone (top area) when in the "blocking" (parked) mode.

    A red light produces a rather low power signal, and since the standard set up for apparatus is one light at each top rear corner, the only way to meet the new standard is to combine an amber light, which has a higher power signal, with the red.

    Other ways to meet the requirement are two pair of lights in the upper zone. For example, a red beacon on each side with a red strobe, halogen flasher or LED directly below it meets the standard.

    And as mentioned previously, a traffic directing light (TDL) with red beacons also meets the standard. Two things here, the TDL has to be mounted at least 60" from the ground, or at a level equal to the bottom of the windshield, and the TDL must be active (flashing) when your emergency master light switch is on, or it must activate when the parking brake is set.

    That is the way our new aerial is set up. The signalmaster is off untill you apply the parking brake, then it comes on in the "flash" mode. The switch on the control box is used if we want to direct traffic to one side or the other.



    Dave

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    Dave has it correct. NFPA requires a certain amount of light output in each zone. On the 2003 Mini-Pumper we got in June, we did not have an amber rotator. We have 2 red rotators at the top rear of the box, then there are 2 amber halogen flashers at eye level on the rear of the box (when standing up), then 2 red LEDs at the lower part of the box on the rear. The only other amber on the truck is the LED in the center of each side of the truck........

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    That helps explain the loaner engine we had. As previously mentioned it had the TDL and red rotators on top of blue LED's on the top rear corners. The rotators were like what you would expect to find on the back of a Cop motorcyle. Looked kind of weird, but thankfully it was just a loaner until they got our engine fixed. Thanks for the clarification Dave.

    Ryan
    Last edited by Svfman; 03-10-2004 at 01:19 PM.

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    Thanks for the information, what we have is an amber beacon on the right (driver's) side, and a red beacon on the left (passenger) side. The reason I was wondering what others were using is that I'm a volunteer, and I have had people pull over (or move to the lane away from the work site) for only an amber strobe on my utility truck, and other's that won't pull over for me later running a call code 3. My thought was maybe putting the amber on what normally would be the road side rather than the curb side might be more effective.

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    Lightbulb Amber rotator on driver side

    When we purchased our apparatus the amber rotators were on the passenger side. We have since moved them to the driver's side (road side) from a recommendation of our VRT instructor. It is true that pedestrian vehicles do slow down more when the amber lights are on the road side because they think it is a utility truck. Just my 2 cents.

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    Our newest engine has 2 rotating reds on top, 2 halogen red flashers below where the OEM brake, reverse, blinker lights are, and 2 amber stobes on the upper section of the "back wall" that turn on when the vehicle is in neutral and the parking brake is on. When the vehicle is in park mode, the center clear rotator turns off also. I am glad that the amber strobes aren't on all the time..they are really blinding. They can be shut off of you turn the "upper rear warning lights" switch off...which also turns off the rotators

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    There are studies that have been done that show the drivers side is the best. Both sides I believe would be safest, so amber would be visable from multiple angles. The reasoning behind the drivers side is due to the amber being brighter and more visable than other warning light colors, if only one is used on the curb side, in low light situations, it could washout the lights on the street side and not show the true edge of the apparatus to the approaching motorist.

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    NFPA DOES allow amber in the front but only when in the blocking mode. The blocking mode is generally initiated when the parking brake is applied. I have yet to see an apparatus with amber in the front but it is allowed.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    We have 2 flashing amber beacons on the rear of our rigs:


    Red Flash - Amber Flash - RD Flood - RD Flood - Amber Flash - Red Flash.

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    A department nearby has put directional light on the front of thier fire new fire engine as well to the rear. They run quite a few calls on the Interstate and the front ends up facing traffic quite a few times. It thought it was a nice idea. Again, a little thinking outside the box.

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    Our 2002 quint has both front and rear mounted Federal Signal Master's. It's our first with a front mount. Works real well.

    Dave

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    Last edited by Dave1983; 04-12-2004 at 09:34 PM.

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    Our KME Excel cab pumper has MX7000 minibars on the upper rear. We had KME install a Tomar Traffic Director 7 (3"x7") strobe unit on the rear. Thus we replaced the amber dome on the pass side MX mini with a red as there is enough amber now for anyone on the rear.

    Usually, from studies I've red, complex lighting systems confuse motorists, especially the impaired drivers. This includes arrow sticks. They can really mess up drivers...which is contrary to the common belief.

    Personally I like halogen flashers lower rear and sealed beam twin par 36 rotators upper rear (the old style ones). But I get alot of boo's from other members on this idea. Simple warning setups seem to be safer overall. But brilliance is what everyone likes. Sometimes firefighters forget that because it looks cool rolling out of station doesn't mean it works for the motorist. Tomar strobes on high intensity (lots of them) in any color will disturb anyone. Throw a little fog in there and you've got a visual mess.

    I also favor all red without any amber. Our state highway trucks run red and amber to the rear. Some folks might think they are coming up behind a moving highway truck. In reality its a stopped 44,000 lb pumper blocking the road. I've seen plenty of wrecks right next to our trucks with the State Troopers directing traffic. People are drawn to light shows like a moth to a flame.

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    Traffic advisors / Directional Bars / Arrow Sticks / Etc are more or less useless as far as directing traffic what to do. If you polled all the cars going by, I bet 90% won't have a clue what the thing means. It is basicly just another blinking light. It at night, it is probably better to just leave it in a flash mode since it is not all crazy and nauseating.

    The only thing that most drivers will understand are the ones that are actually shaped like arrows. And then, you just need it to flash on and off. The sliding sequential flashy-flash arrow mode just makes people stare at it and not actually turn the steering wheel.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Originally posted by nmfire
    Traffic advisors / Directional Bars / Arrow Sticks / Etc are more or less useless as far as directing traffic what to do. If you polled all the cars going by, I bet 90% won't have a clue what the thing means. It is basicly just another blinking light. It at night, it is probably better to just leave it in a flash mode since it is not all crazy and nauseating.

    The only thing that most drivers will understand are the ones that are actually shaped like arrows. And then, you just need it to flash on and off. The sliding sequential flashy-flash arrow mode just makes people stare at it and not actually turn the steering wheel.
    I have to disagree. We find them to be VERY effective. We purchased one and videoed traffic and the drivers reactions with the light on/off. With it off, drivers started pulling over around 50' from the apparatus. With it on, they started moving much further away. Some as much as a BLOCK away. Perhaps its the drivers in your area

    Dave

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