1. #1
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    Default Blue warning lights being more visible and better attention grabbers then red?

    Hello-
    My department is currently in the process of working on a new truck spec. I would like to put some sort of blue light (strobe or LED) on the outside of the truck in the back but chances are they wonít go for that. My other idea was to mount blue LEDís on the inside compartment doors so when we open the doors there is a flashing light just as visible as the rest of the lights on the truck for safety reasons I.E when opening crew cab door the blue LED will be distinct from the rest of the lighting on the truck and motorists are more likely to notice the different color light and notice someone getting out of the crew cab. I could have sworn that there was once a study done that showed Blue emergency lighting grabbed the attention of motorists more than red. Does anyone know anything about this study? It would be greatly appreciated.

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    Post Consider this excerpt:

    Blue Lights and Police Vehicle Safety

    On August 25, 2003, New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer issued a legal opinion that New York state vehicles cannot legally use blue lights because this color is reserved for volunteer firefighters. Claims for the superiority of blue lights over those of other colors have been made, and in response, state Sen. Nicholas Spano of Westchester County has proposed a bill to permit the use of blue lights on police vehicles. But are blue lights really safer?

    Color: The Wrong Tool for the Job

    Reports of accidents involving drivers crashing into police vehicles as they are parked along the side of the road are all too common. The idea that blue lights might make a police vehicle more visible at first makes sense. There usually aren't many blue lights found along the roadway, and their uniqueness might be an extra benefit to a driver approaching a stopped police vehicle.

    Research by the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has shown that while the color of a signal light can make a small difference in visibility when the signal is very difficult to see, the flashing and strobe lights found on emergency and hazard vehicles are designed to be very visible and stand out from their background, no matter what color they are. At these levels, color no longer makes an important difference. It simply is a tool to help us distinguish among different kinds of emergency or hazard vehicles.

    Flashing Lights: Are We Overdoing It?

    Plowing snow is a common activity in the Northeast, and snowplows are often equipped with flashing or strobe lights to enhance visibility. In a study of rear lighting on snowplow trucks, the Lighting Research Center found that people had much greater difficulty judging how fast they were approaching a snowplow from behind when flashing lights were used than when steady-burning lights were used.

    The same principles apply to police vehicles and to any other emergency or hazard vehicle. Flashing lights are excellent "attention-grabbers," but they can sometimes overpower brake and tail lights on vehicles. When flashing and strobe lights are used, steady lights bright enough to be seen should also be used. These will help drivers make better judgments when they approach a stopped police vehicle, and can help reduce an important threat to our law enforcement officials.

    Originally published in Lighting Research Center News, October 6, 2003
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    Not sure of the exact report or sources... but somehow emerg. services out here a few years back decided that Red flashing lights were better at night and blue flashing lights were better during the day... so instead of having Police vehicles with blue lights and fire/ambulances with red, it was decided that all vehicles would have both. Blue on the drivers side, red on the passenger....

    Not sure of the validity of the statement of one is better in the day and one is better in the night... but it's our reasoning and we're sticking with it ;-)

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    For a parked vehicle, put all your scene flood lights on. Make it look like daytime and you won't need any flashing lights.
    "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: Blue warning lights being more visible and better attention grabbers then red?

    Originally posted by Ericb410
    Hello-
    My other idea was to mount blue LEDís on the inside compartment doors so when we open the doors there is a flashing light just as visible as the rest of the lights on the truck for safety reasons
    or you can do what FDNY does, and attach a reflective stop sign to the inside of the door, so when it's opened, and a driver's headlights see it, they will know the door is open.

    From personal experience, I think strobes/flashing lights are better at night, while rotaters are better during the day. I've also see some departments having one red and one amber rotator on the rear of their engines.

    Bones is right, put on your floors, but be wary of using your rear floods in the direction of traffic. you don't want to blind oncoming motorists
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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    The one amber light is an NFPA requirement/recommendation. Either way, I have heard that blue is easier to see during the day. And regardless of color, LEDs are easier to see than strobes during the day. I was in front of one of our ambulances with the 6"x8" strobes on the box (instead of a light bar). I couldn't tell until they were less than 50' behind me that the strobes were on. I saw the red flashers, but no strobes. The new box has all LEDs. The space station can probably see them.

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    Depends on the state you are in...In Wisconsin, state statutes read that blue lights can only be used on a law enforcement vehicle, and they also state that a blue must be accompanied with a red on law enforcement. For FD's, our state says they must be red and can be accompanied by a white strobe.

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    Exclamation Re: Blue warning lights being more visible and better attention grabbers then red?

    Originally posted by Ericb410
    Hello-
    My department is currently in the process of working on a new truck spec. I would like to put some sort of blue light (strobe or LED) on the outside of the truck in the back but chances are they wonít go for that. My other idea was to mount blue LEDís on the inside compartment doors so when we open the doors there is a flashing light just as visible as the rest of the lights on the truck for safety reasons I.E when opening crew cab door the blue LED will be distinct from the rest of the lighting on the truck and motorists are more likely to notice the different color light and notice someone getting out of the crew cab. I could have sworn that there was once a study done that showed Blue emergency lighting grabbed the attention of motorists more than red. Does anyone know anything about this study? It would be greatly appreciated.


    To begin with, you don't give any indication on where you and your department is located.

    State motor vehicle laws regulate the use of any warning light.

    NFPA requires a minimum of warning light and states where they should be mounted.

    In Virginia, Blue lights are for the police, Period.

    Red and white can be use by the fire department on their vehicles as long as they fall under the guidelines of the state laws and NFPA.

    Stobes are very good. They are a lot better using a blue lens than a red lens. The red lens tends to reduce the light coming from the lamp holder, while the blue lens has an differnt effect. The light coming through a blue lens is bright using stobes. OK now comparing stobes to the halogen, it is just the opposite. The light coming from a halogen lanp is brither through a red lens. Now, comes the LED lights. Both red and blue are very bright. In fact they appear to look "HOT" when in operation. This slso depends on the type and output of the LED.

    I would check with the state and local laws before ordering and installing any light or lights on apparatus. Salesmen are, for the most part, honorable. That is to say that they will not sell your department something that they know is against the law to use on the apparatus.

    Installing the reflective stop signs on the apparatus doors work good. How ever don't fall into a false sense that traffic will stop when seeing the stop signs on an open door. Just look at school buses, every one doesn't always stop for them either!!!

    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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    Ok the three most visible colors are red, yellow, and green. That is why they are used on traffic lights. Of those three colors red and yellow are alowed to be used in most areas as emergency colors. However, being the most visible, they dont stand out the best. Why, because red, white, and yellow lights are found on EVERY vehicle on the road. These colors dont stand out like blue does. Most people dont think of this and overlook blue as an option. Here in the south Police run blue, and Fire run red, so blue is'nt an option for us. I would defently check into blue as an option. As for the doors the reflective stop sign is a great idea, being a dept. with a smaller budget we found red and white reflective tape trimed around the outside edges of the inside of the door workes quite nice as well. Just keep your options open and rember to think out side the box, Creativity is a highly underused resourse.

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    Originally posted by ameryfd
    Depends on the state you are in...In Wisconsin, state statutes read that blue lights can only be used on a law enforcement vehicle, and they also state that a blue must be accompanied with a red on law enforcement. For FD's, our state says they must be red and can be accompanied by a white strobe.
    Same here in California. Red is required on any emergency vehicle, but blue is limited to police only. Clear and amber are allowed as secondary lights, but are optional. So, fire and EMS vehicles will have primarily red with some clear and amber thrown in. Police vehicles generally have half red/half blue lightbars with some amber and clear as well.
    Chris Gaylord
    Emergency Planner / Fire Captain, UC Santa Cruz FD

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    I guess it's what Captoldtimer stated...look at your state driving laws. Also look at what the NFPA atates as to how and what the color of emergency vehicles MUST be (funny how recommedations turn into 'law').

    Now as for the use of Blue lights...A little while ago my department changed 1 rear facing light to bule from amber/red. I found that during the day the bule light was no better or worse than the other colors. However, at night the bule light stood right out. It didn't overpower however it did break up the standard light pattern, which is the effect that we are looking for after all. So, I'm neither for or against the use.

    Now, strobes vs. LED's? Well, most of our vehicles are a mix, which I think is a good thing. The more that you can draw attention to yourself the better. But, I have found that the LED's are much brighter and capture the attention of drivers much better that a strobe. Also, I have found that in rain, fog, snow, etc...the flashback from the LED's is nonexistant - hte opposite from strobes where they can almost blind you.

    As for drawing sttention to your vehicle on a highway or busy road way..Well, firehouse ran an article about using the alternating orange and red reflective tape on hte rear of fire vehicles similar to the way europe does it. Haven't heard much else after the article though - but's it's worth the look. But you also have another way to protect yourself on a highway, espically before PD arrive. Ever see anyone drive through a big red (or white) firetruck???

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    I am in a all volunteer department in NY, where blue lights are reserved for volunteer fire fighters not to say that the police in my area are starting to use them more and more. Technically if the law doesn't state they are reserved for Volunteer Fire Fighters POV can't they be used on on emergency vehicle's that are owned by a volunteer department?

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    Originally posted by hfdgrp17



    As for drawing sttention to your vehicle on a highway or busy road way..Well, firehouse ran an article about using the alternating orange and red reflective tape on hte rear of fire vehicles similar to the way europe does it. Haven't heard much else after the article though - but's it's worth the look. But you also have another way to protect yourself on a highway, espically before PD arrive. Ever see anyone drive through a big red (or white) firetruck???

    Go to http://www.firefighterclosecalls.com/


    I have seen too many accidenst invloving fire apparatus on the highways. Yes civilian vehicles can and do make a terrible mess of parked fire apparatus. You can have a zillion of different color lights on the rig and some body will still get to close or hit it. Why? Because they are to busy doing other things while driving. Some fall asleep while driving. Some are DUI's, some are messing with cell phones, radios and trying to lit their favorite smoke. Some are trying to get the kids seated or just to get them to shut up!
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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    SafetyPro:
    In Calif. the rear faceing flashing amber is
    not optional, but mandatory.

    Bill

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    Ok, first of all, NFPA does NOT require amber anywhere. They require a certain amount of candlepower. Since you get more light from an amber light than red, amber lights are often used to supplement the red and meet the CP requirement. You could do up the back of a fire apparatus with all red but it will take a lot more light heads. Also, I believe traffic advisors are not counted in this lighting.

    That said, most every new truck will come with amber lights even if not needed. It just makes sense for weather visibility.

    NFPA allows the following as long as it meets the CP and other specs:

    Front: Red or blue at any time. White lights must turn off when stopped on scene. Amber lights mut turn off when responding.

    Sides: Red, blue, amber, at any time. White lights must turn off when stopped on scene.

    Rear: Red, blue, or amber at any time. White is not allowed at any time.


    So, if you want to add blue, NFPA would allow it. You then just need to confirm your state laws allow it.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    I am in agreement with the old captain. You first have to know what the state laws are pertaining to warning lights for fire apparatus.

    California has their own laws regarding lights, which can be steady, flashing, winking, blinking.

    I have to disagree with NFPA on the white light issue. The State Maryland does disagree and it makes more sence to leave them on than to cut them off!

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    I would rather see them be allowed to stay on during the day. At night, if your lighting meets spec, you shouldn't need them while on scene. This can be done very easily with a simple light sensor on the roof to make them stay on during the day.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    If I remember correctly, the amber light in the rear of an emergency vehicle is a DOT standard/requirement. I guess we use red/white/blue lightbars, red strobes/flashers in the grill and sides, and on the rear we have a red and blue flashing lights on top, and on the bottom we have 2 flashers on our fire trucks. The amber lights on the rear really help, and on the front I can see our trucks with the blue and white alot better.

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    Blue LED's, if set on the right pattern will BLIND you! they are really good for attention getting. Amber is also a good color for warning lights.
    Proud Right-Wing Extremist since 1992

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    Be sure to check your state laws on light colors. You dont need to worry about NFPA as it only covers minimums for emergency lighting. A light inside a door would be an add on (like hi beam flashers) and not covered by NFPA.

    I would go with a red or blue LED or an amber halogen flasher (amber LEDs dont show up as well as red/blue) inside each door, in combination with reflective tape or stop signs.

    BTW, someone mentioned arrow lights not being covered under NFPA. They are, but only if configured as part of a lighting "zone" package. For example, our new aerial has two red rotators on each upper rear corner with an arrow light in between. The only way it meets the NFPA upper zone package is the arrow comes on WITH the rotators whenever the parking brake is set.

    Dave

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    Default My 2 cents..

    Me- I simply cant stand blue lights on a fire truck. It really
    makes me sick. As stated before, in California, a forward facing
    red ight is manadory by state law. And blue lights are
    reserved for law enforcement.

    Have you considered a solid red light on the front?

    Lastly, here is a FH link for you-

    Firehouse link

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    Default only true blue

    In Alabama, blue lights are reserved for police emergency vehicles only. Fire and EMS are allowed red, amber, and clear/white. I think we been over this before. Anyway, I think strobes would go good on the insides of the doors and could make things more visible. Also I think NFPA did what they did because amber lights have been tested to be more visible to drivers on the roadway. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that is it.

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    Lox, read my post about NFPA rules. This is NO rule stating you have to have amber anywhere at any time. You could do the WHOLE TRUCK in BLUE if you wanted to as long as it meets the requirements.

    I would NEVER put strobes in a compartment door. They are not going to last. Way too fragile for the abuse and banging around they will get. Plus you will need another power supply big enough to handle however many compartments you have, which will get expensive. Finally, do you know how annoying it will be fetching stuff from the compartment with strobes firing off 6" from your head? You'd be wasting your money.

    If you want to put anything on the compartment doors, I would use something very low amperage to make use of the existing compartment light circuit. If your going to do it, do it right and use LED's. Whelen TIR3's with a bracket are only about $65.00 and they do not require any additional flasher. Just 12v power and they have built-in selectable patterns. Either that or get the Par-36 round LED's which also have built-in flash patterns.

    All that said, I think you could accomplish the same thing with some white reflective tape... same stuff that is used for going around the body of most apparatus. The big stuff.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Excerpt from NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law:
    Section 375 (41)

    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 person's 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. Amended April 18, 2002.

    Pretty self-explanatory. My only indirect experience was a neighboring company putting a new pumper into service several years ago that had a blue light....they had to change the lens over to red.

    The only law enforcement agencies that run blue lights locally (Western NY) that I am aware of is the US Customs Service and Border Patrol that run combination red/blue lights...but they're Federal, not a NYS agency. There was a tussle a few years ago when the State Police wanted to start using blue lights or combo red/blue lights on their cruisers. FASNY and other volunteer organizations opposed it, and eventually it was agreed that blue lights would remain as volunteer fire only.

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    And, as stated in about a hundred threads, here in Louisiana only sworn law enforcement personel can have blue lights. But you probably already knew that.

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