1. #1
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    Default History Lesson: Why are Fire Engines Red?

    From PBS.org's "Firehouse Primer" in regards to FDNY:

    Why are fire engines red?

    Before firefighting was a paid profession, most communities were served by volunteer fire departments. These firemen didn't have much money to spend on upkeep, and at the time red was the least expensive color of paint. Red wasn't the only color used, however. Before it merged with the force in Manhattan, the Brooklyn Fire Department painted its apparatus a two-tone green to distinguish them from the red apparatus of the Metropolitan Fire Department. Today, there are still different colored fire engines, but red is the most common color out of tradition.
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    Question A Second Opinion...............

    With all due respect to my esteemed colleague from the Nut, Uh, Oops, make that Nutmeg State, are red rigs really still in the majority?? Based on what I see here in the Mid-Atlantic, and the photos in the Trade Publications, Solid Red seems to be getting less use as White over Red moves into the top spot followed by a White with Red Stripes style coming in second. We ( www.gdvfd18.com ) went to Chrome Yellow in 1968 and still use it. We have placed an order for a pumper from Pierce that will be the first unit with a major change to that style since Black stripes were added in 1992. The new pumper will have a solid Black (Chicago style) Top over the Yellow. Speaking of which, The Black over Red seems to be the fastest growing color combination out there. Rebuttals??
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    These firemen didn't have much money to spend on upkeep, and at the time red was the least expensive color of paint.
    I had heard the opposite. The story I heard was that red was teh most expensive color because of the pigments. Back in teh day all of the departments apparatus were show pieces and parade pieces so tehy spent a lot of money on the bells and whistles, and red was the most expensive. Then they trimmed them with gold leafing to add extra pizzazz to the rig.

    I think the History Channel had a show on old fire engines and their history that restated this, but it wasn't the first place I heard it.

    hwoods:

    Black over yello sounds interesting. I'd have to see it to make an opinion though. I worked on a POC department adn we had white rigs with a red scotchlite stripe on them. Everyone else had red around us so we always knew where we were on scene, and the rigs looked really sharp. I do like the Chicago paint scheme of black over red adn a lot of metro Boston departments are switching - I think it looks better than white over red.
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    Default as Kermit the Frog says....

    it's not easy being green
    Last edited by Bones42; 03-15-2011 at 09:38 AM.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Default Re: as Kermit the Frog says....

    Originally posted by Bones42
    it's not easy being green
    I dunno Bones, that truck looks more Canary Yellow from here. Maybe I need to adjust the color of my monitor.

    Thats ok, my FDs apparatus used to be red but switched over to yellow in the early 70s. Havent changed back and dont plan on it. Maybe I can find a picture somewhere to post.
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    Default

    Mr. Woods,

    Our Esteemed man with the Nat. School Bus Chrom #2 Trucks. You guys are trying to make your truck look more and more like your wife's Bus.
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    Lewiston2Capt, it's the picture. They are lime yellow, more on the lime side. Went to this in late 70's. Other company in town had all red, then went to black over red. We toyed with white over green, black over green, but will probably stay with the green.
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    Default Black Tops

    Since we're on the subject, does anyone know where the black-over-red, or black-over-anything-for-that-matter, originated and why?

    Don't know if anyone can verify this, but I believe I read once that it began in Chicago back when when all apparatus were still open cabs. The chief's cars were the first to put a canvas top to on to keep them out of the weather, but embers blowing from nearby fires kept setting them ablaze. So, they covered them with tar to fireproof the canvas tops.

    Don't remember where a read that. Anyone, confirm or dispute?

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    Talking

    PBS ran a series on barns. One of the questions was why are so many barns red? The farmers claimed that red was the cheapest color. The hardware store owners said red was the cheapest color because the farmers bought so much of it.

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    Talking From the Hall of Flame...

    Did someone say green fire trucks?
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    Talking a wee bit ornamental perhaps?

    This is another one from the museum.
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    Default

    Since we're on the subject, does anyone know where the black-over-red, or black-over-anything-for-that-matter, originated and why?
    I thought it was Boar's Head
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    Default Black over Red

    I have heard that Chicago went to Black over Red in memory of their fallen Firefighters. Mikey, can you help?

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    Default

    yeah, i heard that too about the black tops for chicago,
    somebody also braught up that they have a single green light on their light bars, i cant confirm this, but i was curious because i have a code 3 truck and its got a green light. i was just curious as to waht that was for as well.


    woot woot, lime green! the lime green tends to be more visiable at night, and out in the boons where we live, it can get pretty dark and hard to see.

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    Default

    It may be different there but in most areas the green light indicates command post location.

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    Default CHICAGO FIRE

    Hey All,

    While I can't post any comment on the original color of fire trucks, I can clear up that Chicago color and light question.

    The tops of (upper 3/8ths) of Chicago Fire engines ARE INDEED painted black as a reminder of all the CFD members who made the ultimate sacrafice. The idea is to show how proud the department is, with bright red trucks, but to never forget those who have paved the way before.

    Now the green lights on the side...Contrary to popular belief, the lights do not represent any symbolism of a command post. The CFD had a chief, (the dates of his term now escapes me) but this man was an avid fisherman. He decide to place red and green lights on the side of an engine,(just like they do with a boat) so that you could tell at a glance what side of the engine you are looking at (port or starboard). This chief was a well liked, well respected man, and his "improvements are still shown on their apparatus today.

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    Default

    On the subject of fire engine colors, does anyone have a source for a jpeg of a purple engine?

    I did a just-for-fun powerpoint presentation in my son's 1st grade class and I couldn't find a good one (I had just about every other color, though).
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    Default

    I cant remember the source but I read a report a few years ago that showed that the color of a rig had no bearing on the visibility of it and that's why a lot of depts are going back to some combination of red for tradition.

    Now for the lighter side

    Trucks are like tomatoes

    Green ones aren't done yet

    Bright red ones are just right

    Dark red ones are getting soft

    And well We all know what is white on a tomato

    I drive a Dark red truck
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    North Montgomery TX is powder blue on all units. I tried to find a picture somewhere. They're not the only ones, there are a few depts that have powder blue.

    Bryn Mawr PA is green and yellow: http://www.brynmawrfirecompany.org/Apparatus.html

    Plymouth FC PA is purple. At least it looks that way to me.

    http://www.plymouthfireco.com/

    The PA Firefighter site also has a lot of pages of different color trucks and cool graphics. http://www.pafirefighter.net/

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    Thumbs up

    San Antonio's fleet is still in the process of "ripening" from green-yellow back to a nice white over red. (Much to everyone's delight )
    Last edited by SAFD46Truck; 02-04-2007 at 01:59 AM.

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    Default Blue rocks!

    I figure I will say this first, real fire trucks are blue!

    Our Engines are blue with white striping, got to www.walkersvillevfc.com for pics

    Our Rescue units our white with blue stipes, www.wvrc24.com for pics
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    Default Re: Blue rocks!

    Originally posted by mustang911
    I figure I will say this first, real fire trucks are blue!
    So, do you have an opinion on ET 184?
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    Graceham? If its not blue, I don't like it! Actually, I haven't seen 184 before, and its not that I don't like red trucks, but blue is my favorite color!
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    i don't have a pic but the cool trucks around here are from my dad's depatment. they are red with a black stripe and the stribe is lined with gold. looks real good. these trucks took over the slime-lime ones.
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    has any one seen a bright orange truck???

    our new haz-mat truck is really bright orange. even brighter than slime-lime. i will look for a pic.
    IF YOU FOLLOW ALL OF THE RULES YOU MISS ALL OF THE FUN.

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    These Are My Opinions, Not that of My Dept. or Any other Orgnazition I Belong to.

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