Red Lights to the Left of them, Blue to the right! – Coloring Emergency Lighting

So youre driving down the road in an unfamiliar state, lets say that its Iowa or Wisconsin, when in your rear-view mirror you see flashing red lights on a big utility truck coming your way. You cant really make out what kind of truck it is, but you see red lights flashing so you pull over to let it go by. When it does, you realize that youve just pulled over for a tow-truck.

Or hows this? The same thing happens, but its a flashing blue light in Colorado. When you pull over, you realize that you just got pulled over by a snow-plow.

I live in Illinois and work between IL and Wisconsin and theres quite a bit of a difference between the different lighting colors and upon who can use what color light for what purpose. As a volunteer paramedic/Firefighter in Illinois I run a blue light with no siren in my personal vehicle. Even though I rarely turn it on, I have it in case I get stuck behind a 20mph Grandma on my way to the Big One. Interestingly, the blue light gives me no legal authority or any legal leeway on traffic laws and I must obey all traffic laws even while running the light. I Wisconsin, however, volunteer firefighters and EMS people may use red lights and sirens in their personal vehicles. They have the same legal status as governmental emergency vehicles when theyre driving with their lights activated.

In Iowa, volunteer firefighters may run blue lights in their personal vehicles with no legal authority granted them, and EMS volunteers may run clear (white) lights in their personal vehicles. Volunteers for fire and EMS combination agencies may run a mixture of both, however if a person volunteers for both a separate Fire department and a separate EMS agency, they must be careful to run the clear light for EMS responses and the Blue light for fire responses.

Of course, thats just for personal vehicles right? Allowing emergency lights in the personal vehicles of emergency volunteers is a debatable issue in some circles. I argue for responsible control of their use and think that they are needed in some communities and not needed in others. Out of the 400-500 volunteer runs I respond to annually, I probably turn on my blue light for less than ten percent of the runs. I use it judiciously, but I know others that I can say did not.

However, this isnt a post about volunteer emergency lighting and the pros and cons of it. Its about the messed up spectrum of colors that we use on emergency vehicles in this country. Sure, we have the same stock colors pretty much everywhere. Red, blue, amber (yellow), green, clear (white), and in some states purple (Yes! Purple!). In the southern states, blue lights are for law-enforcement only and red is for fire only. In Wisconsin, law enforcement runs red and blue lights and fire and EMS is red only. In Iowa, up until a few years ago everyone ran red lights except for volunteer firefighters. They changed the law and now allow blue on the Passenger side only. In the City of Chicago, the Chicago Police Department runs blue only and the Fire department runs Red and Green. Downstate Illinois (Read: Outside of the City of Chicago City Limts) runs red and blue for all Authorized Emergency Vehicles and blue lights for the volunteers. Green lights are only permitted on stationary vehicles for command lights but can also be used for private security officers. As I mentioned before, in Iowa and Wisconsin, tow trucks run red lights. In Colorado, snow plows run blue. In some states, funeral processions run purple.

Confused? I sure as heck am.

Consider this: Different lighting colors exist because different members of the driving public see different wavelengths of light in the spectrum (i.e. Colors) better or worse in differing ambient light conditions. Also, different colors penetrate different atmospheric and/or ambient light conditions better than others. You can see blue forever at night or in the fog, but not so much in the bright light. Red washes out to amber in the day light but is still fairly visible. Clear lights penetrate for a very long way but can be confused with light reflecting off of a surface almost the same as amber lights. We need a diverse spectrum of colors emanating from our response vehicles in order to ensure that the highest amount of drivers out there are able to see the lights. If someones color blind to the particular light color that we choose, theyre not going to see us all that well, are they?

The arguments that I hear for the use of lighting colors dont hold much weight with me. Who cares if the public is able to see that an approaching emergency vehicle is Fire, EMS, Law Enforcement, ASPCA, Haz-Mat, Tech-Rescue, Volunteer, or miscellaneous. They just need to pull over and get out of the way. One color lighting schemes may give the agency a sense of personality or whatnot, but theyre certainly not the safest way to be seen. An emergency vehicle needs to throw out a lot of light across the spectrum of visible colors in order to help ensure the safest response possible.

So why are we having this hodgepodge of warning light colors? Why do people think theyre a good idea? I can think of a few advantages of having law enforcement only colors, as in reducing false traffic stops from people impersonating police officers, but having one color and one color only simply makes it easier for a criminal to get a hold of that one color of light. Why fire would only need red lights is a question that I cant come up with a good reason for.

So good luck driving out there! If you see me, Ill be on the side of the road letting a tow-truck go by. Then Ill run my blue light in Wisconsin because we got a house fire in my district that touches the WI state line and Ill get arrested for impersonating a police officer. Then Ill be at work getting into a crash because someone driving out there was color blind to the color red.

Anyone want to add to the confusion? What colors do your state or country use? Is anybody else in favor of a national standard?

  • http://twitter.com/MedicSBK Scott

    In New Jersey, Vollies use blue lights. I had one in my car when I went to Massachusetts. A Campus Cop friend that I made my freshman year told me that I might want to keep that in my trunk when I'm not in NJ because I could get in A LOT of trouble if I got pulled over by someone and they saw that light, because PD uses all Blue in Mass.

    Its crazy.. but remember, each State's rule is the best way to do it.. just ask them, they'll tell you!

  • http://twitter.com/MedicSBK Scott

    In New Jersey, Vollies use blue lights. I had one in my car when I went to Massachusetts. A Campus Cop friend that I made my freshman year told me that I might want to keep that in my trunk when I'm not in NJ because I could get in A LOT of trouble if I got pulled over by someone and they saw that light, because PD uses all Blue in Mass.

    Its crazy.. but remember, each State's rule is the best way to do it.. just ask them, they'll tell you!

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  • http://twitter.com/in_the_city Angelo

    To add more confusion to your home states color schemes… In Chicago the Red/Green combo is only on Fire Suppression apparatus with the exception of perhaps one west side ambulance who has a single green light in their grill. I've only ever seen the red/green combo on that single ambulance. The rest of us ambulance company folk in the city operate under a standard Red/White color scheme. If I ever get a chance to get a purple light I'm jumping on it, it would bring out my eyes.

  • Michael

    I think their should be a standard. I'm a volunteer firefighter in California. California Fire can have Red, White and Amber. Police is the only ones that can have Blue and can also along with blue have red, white and amber. And roadside equipment i.e: Road Dept, Tow Trucks, Utilities can have Amber, except vehicles that belong to a bridge they can have red. For Volunteers private vehicles we can have amber, but its frowned upon, and if we do we have to obey all laws. Only Fire Chiefs can have Red lights on private vehicles if their vehicle is inspeted by CHP.

    • Ord

      Unless it has changed since I was living in CA, the requirement is a single steady red light viable from 300 ft/ While they do use rotating or flashing lights, it is the steady red that is what actually grants the the legal right of way. As an example, remember when CHP used to run the red spotlights?

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  • Michael

    I think their should be a standard. I'm a volunteer firefighter in California. California Fire can have Red, White and Amber. Police is the only ones that can have Blue and can also along with blue have red, white and amber. And roadside equipment i.e: Road Dept, Tow Trucks, Utilities can have Amber, except vehicles that belong to a bridge they can have red. For Volunteers private vehicles we can have amber, but its frowned upon, and if we do we have to obey all laws. Only Fire Chiefs can have Red lights on private vehicles if their vehicle is inspeted by CHP.

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  • Maunay

    I like the whole Red and Blue for all “Authorized Emergency Vehicles”. In Montana it is Red and Blue for LE and Red White and Amber for EMS and Fire. I once pulled over for a Tow Truck in New Mexico because he was running with blue lights. I don't know about the rest of the colors. Green and Purple? Sounds like a Christmas tree! ha ha ha.

  • emschick

    In Virginia Blue is police only and Red is for fire and rescue services, volunteers can have red lights in their personal vehicle. One of the volunteers where I run was complaining that he was responding to a call in our Crown Vic and a New Yorker in front of him pulled over and stopped. I explained to him that is because he thought he was being pulled over, in NY they use red lights on their police vehicles. I think Purple is used for funeral processions here

  • CBEMT

    Cops- whatever they want.
    Fire/Fire-EMS- Mostly red and white/clear, some are starting to put amber and blue to the rear, however, there is a law here that says only PD can have blue anywhere on the vehicle. Don't see a lot of fire trucks or rescues (ambulances) being pulled over though.
    Tow trucks,construction- Amber
    Mall security- Green (no law requiring)
    Private security- Amber (no law requiring)

    Btw, if you can score an emegency vehicle lighting permit from the state DOT, you can have anything except blue. I've seen private services get it for their non-response vehicles that they don't license as non-transporting ambulances.

    Volunteers- red with or without amber/white, must have Chief's authorization, no siren, no obligation to pull over. Technically this allows roof bars, but that varies with department as to who can run what. Almost exclusively limited to officers.

    • Jsm6192

      I’m going to changes things up a little bit. I’m from Ontario, so of course we have to do things our own way.

      Police use red and blue combinations, usually red driver, blue passenger but some services mix and match. Occasionally you will still see all reds but they’re normally older spare cruisers which weren’t switched over. Ambers may be visible to the rear, but this is normally used in a directional arrow application.

      Certain special constables are granted the authority to use red lights only, but there seems to be fewer and fewer with most going to blue lights, or ambers.

      Provincial offenses officers (such as Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, etc) use 360 red lights.

      Ambulances use red and white combo’s in a 360 fashion. There used to be no specific way they had to flash, but the ministry of health has now decided that all lights in the same visual plane must flash at the same rate, and colours must be seperate (I.e. All red, then all white, then back). Some ambulances use amber lights on the back as a secondary lighting system when you don’t need your full emerg lights active. All services which mount arrow bars on the back of their trucks tend to use red lights for this purpose. Ambulances in Ontario are operated by municipalities, no private companies. Private transfer and event medical trucks are not supposed to have forward facing red lights on a public roadway.

      Snow plows use blue to the front (occasionally white as well) and a combination of blue and amber to the rear.

      Fire trucks and fire service vehicles run red 360, with typically two ambers to the rear, underneath the rotating reds. They have white lights on the front, that seem to only be activated while the truck is in motion. All arrows bars also seem to be amber.

      Public utility/maintenance vehicles, majority of tow trucks and pretty much anybody who wants them use amber lights as a visual warning.

      Funeral processions use purple as a courtesy light, but this can be negated by the hiring of a police escort.

      Green is allowed for volunteer fire and volunteer medical response agencies, but without a siren. It is also used as a light to denote the incident command vehicle on a scene.

      Mine rescue uses red lights as well.

      Ontario law specifically prohibits the use of forward facing red lights on anything that is not a designated emergency vehicle. And no vehicle (other than police) may have any pairing of flashing red and blue lights. Impersonating an emergency vehicle through appearance or lights is at police discretion it appears, as to whether or not a citation is issued.

  • Cozy Powell

    In the UK it's simple – all emegency services (Police, Ambulance, Fire, Coastguard, Mountain Resuce, Bomb Disposal, Blood/Organ Transfers and all the others I can't remember) use blue lights.

    Doctors have green lights but have to abide by the traffic regulations.

    Towtrucks, road sweepers, large vehicles all user amber lights.

  • Cozy Powell

    Just to follow up, this site http://www.ukemergency.co.uk/information/blueli… tells it like it is in the UK. Hope you don't mind the link.

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  • 20h10

    I have served in EMS in 3 states. In South Carolina volunteers ran red lights- no special privileges. The rigs ran red and whites. In Wisconsin, You had to run both red lights and a siren but were given the same rights as a public vehicle. The rigs we had ran red and whites as well. Here in Illinois, we run blues on our POV's. Our rigs run red, blue, white and yellow strobes.

    I agree with you 100% about the need for some sort of standardization. However, the greatest problem still comes from the rectal-cranial anastamosis of the driving public. I never cease to be amazed that I can drive an International Med-Tec ambulance that is lit up like an obscene Christmas tree and people still don't see us. Perhaps it is not the lights per se, but the texting,talking,fooling with the kids, digging in the Mickey D's bag when you should be driving that has the more pressing need for resolution.

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  • Josh

    In NH and Mass police is all blue forward facing, but they can have red and amber in the back. Fire and EMS no matter if its volunteers POV or an actual agency can have red, amber, clear or blue, BUT it has to be red forward facing. NH is also starting to require volunteers to have 360 lighting now, so thats kind of a pain, but i can see what they're getting at in terms of over all safety. All utility vehicles, plows, construction vehicles, etc… are amber, funerals are purple, and private security is green.

  • Ethan

    In Central Wisconsin, the Tow companies use Red and Amber on incident scenes (10-50s, Car Crashes, Car/Boat in Water) and from what I've scene, only Amber when they are transporting/towing the vehicle.
    Volunteers are only allowed to use sirens on personal vehicles if authorized by the Department Chief and if it is allowed in the Department by-laws, but 999 out of 1000 volunteers don't have sirens.
    My Rescue Squad doesn't even allow us to use lights while responding to a scene (only on scene), even though we have one of the biggest response areas in the area, as the members decided using lights wasn't worth it.
    Overview-
    Police- Red/Blue
    My Rescue Squad's Vehicles- Red/Blue (We're part of the Sheriff's Department)
    Fire and EMS- Red/White, Red
    Volunteers- Red/White, Red (Most people don't buy any lights, they are usually supplied by the Department, but people can choose to buy lights.)

  • Ethan

    In Central Wisconsin, the Tow companies use Red and Amber on incident scenes (10-50s, Car Crashes, Car/Boat in Water) and from what I've scene, only Amber when they are transporting/towing the vehicle.
    Volunteers are only allowed to use sirens on personal vehicles if authorized by the Department Chief and if it is allowed in the Department by-laws, but 999 out of 1000 volunteers don't have sirens.
    My Rescue Squad doesn't even allow us to use lights while responding to a scene (only on scene), even though we have one of the biggest response areas in the area, as the members decided using lights wasn't worth it.
    Overview-
    Police- Red/Blue
    My Rescue Squad's Vehicles- Red/Blue (We're part of the Sheriff's Department)
    Fire and EMS- Red/White, Red
    Volunteers- Red/White, Red (Most people don't buy any lights, they are usually supplied by the Department, but people can choose to buy lights.)

  • Nick

    In PA, Fire and EMS use red, but most also have at least one amber light, usually in the rear. However, some fire police vehicles have red/blue. Police dept.'s uses red/blue as well. Volunteers use blue lights but must follow all state traffic laws. Volunteer officers (normally Chief, Deputy Chief, Battalion Chiefs, and Asst. Chiefs) can run red lights and sirens in their POVs, and can even apply for an emergency vehicle license plate for their POV. This, of course, varies from dept. to dept. as to who can run red lights and sirens.

  • Nick

    Also, it would be nice if there were some federal guidelines for warning light colors to make it universal nationwide. Just makes things easier in the long run.

  • TexasVolunteer

    In the Great State of Texas… A flashing Red light is the only required light that any “Authorized Emergency Vehicle” must have. The use of Amber, White, and Blue is discretionary. Volunteer Firefighters enroute to a Fire/EMS call become “Authorized Emergency Vehicles” and may use Red lights (others permitted) with a siren. Texas law requires every driver to immediately vacate the lane upon notice of Red light and/or siren. There are not asked to discern whether or not it is a fireman, policeman, ambulance, etc… just GET OUT OF THE WAY. Failure to yield right of way is a crime and is a jailable offense. Thankfully, we do not have much abuse of that privilege amongst the volunteers and that I've only had a few cases where some people were sooo obstinate and did not want to yield. One particular case I was enroute to a child drowning call… you can sure bet I immediately radioed the sheriffs office who took care of “Miss Prissy.” Thankfully the child was saved!

  • Jay

    New Hampshire red lights and siren on POV for fire/ems. LEO uses all blue with siren

  • TexasVolunteer

    In the Great State of Texas… A flashing Red light is the only required light that any “Authorized Emergency Vehicle” must have. The use of Amber, White, and Blue is discretionary. Volunteer Firefighters enroute to a Fire/EMS call become “Authorized Emergency Vehicles” and may use Red lights (others permitted) with a siren. Texas law requires every driver to immediately vacate the lane upon notice of Red light and/or siren. There are not asked to discern whether or not it is a fireman, policeman, ambulance, etc… just GET OUT OF THE WAY. Failure to yield right of way is a crime and is a jailable offense. Thankfully, we do not have much abuse of that privilege amongst the volunteers and that I've only had a few cases where some people were sooo obstinate and did not want to yield. One particular case I was enroute to a child drowning call… you can sure bet I immediately radioed the sheriffs office who took care of “Miss Prissy.” Thankfully the child was saved!

  • Jay

    New Hampshire red lights and siren on POV for fire/ems. LEO uses all blue with siren

  • nathan

    here in IN fire runs strictly blue to the front and any color except green to the back on p.o.v. ems runs strictly green to the front and any color to the back on p.o.v.
    fire trucks are red and white as well as ambulances .
    purple is for funeral services and red blue is police here
    tow trucks and plows have to have amber(yellow)

  • AmbulanceAmateur

    Cozy, tx for the link.

    I'm a Community First Responder (hence the name) and we aren't allowed blue lights. Staffordshire CFRs were allowed to do lots of things no other CFRs were. Now they're part of West Mids, they do the same as everyone else.

    That's not, of course, to say that I wouldn't like blues sometimes. In light traffic and without breaking any speed limits I can get to almost all places in our urban patch in 10-12 minutes. I can get to most of the patch within our 8-minute target.

    However, when there's traffic around, you can double those times at least. I feel most sympathy with rural Responders in tourist areas like Cornwall, the Peak District & the Lake District. They can be bl**dy miles away from their patient and find the roads blocked with tourists.

    One of the objections to Community First Responders using blue lights, even if trained, is the cost of the motor insurance.

    Just a bit extra for our ex-colonial friends. Whilst most ambulances in the UK are run by the NHS, both private ambulances and voluntary ones (e.g. St John, Red Cross) can use blues on their registered emergency vehicles.

    Mind you, referring to the original post, I'm glad we have a national code so that we all know what we can expect.

  • nathan

    here in IN fire runs strictly blue to the front and any color except green to the back on p.o.v. ems runs strictly green to the front and any color to the back on p.o.v.
    fire trucks are red and white as well as ambulances .
    purple is for funeral services and red blue is police here
    tow trucks and plows have to have amber(yellow)

  • AmbulanceAmateur

    Cozy, tx for the link.

    I'm a Community First Responder (hence the name) and we aren't allowed blue lights. Staffordshire CFRs were allowed to do lots of things no other CFRs were. Now they're part of West Mids, they do the same as everyone else.

    That's not, of course, to say that I wouldn't like blues sometimes. In light traffic and without breaking any speed limits I can get to almost all places in our urban patch in 10-12 minutes. I can get to most of the patch within our 8-minute target.

    However, when there's traffic around, you can double those times at least. I feel most sympathy with rural Responders in tourist areas like Cornwall, the Peak District & the Lake District. They can be bl**dy miles away from their patient and find the roads blocked with tourists.

    One of the objections to Community First Responders using blue lights, even if trained, is the cost of the motor insurance.

    Just a bit extra for our ex-colonial friends. Whilst most ambulances in the UK are run by the NHS, both private ambulances and voluntary ones (e.g. St John, Red Cross) can use blues on their registered emergency vehicles.

    Mind you, referring to the original post, I'm glad we have a national code so that we all know what we can expect.

  • Rescue 102

    “In Wisconsin, however, volunteer firefighters and EMS people may use red lights and sirens in their personal vehicles. They have the same legal status as governmental emergency vehicles when theyre driving with their lights activated.”
    That's only partly true. In WI, to be considered an emergency vehicle and exceed the speed limit etc., the warning must be visual (360 degrees around the vehicle AND audible. If you are responding to a call with only a courtesy light, you must follow all applicable traffic laws. The light is merely asking for the courtesy of the right of way. You might also want to consider stashing your blue light in the trunk when you cross the border too. It is illegal for any vehicle except law enforcement to display a blue light within a certain distance of a public road. Also, as an Emergency Vehicle Operator instructor, even running lights and sirens will not protect you if you decide to run a stop sign or stop light. You still have the responsibility to drive with due regard in all circumstances.

  • Rescue 102

    “In Wisconsin, however, volunteer firefighters and EMS people may use red lights and sirens in their personal vehicles. They have the same legal status as governmental emergency vehicles when theyre driving with their lights activated.”
    That's only partly true. In WI, to be considered an emergency vehicle and exceed the speed limit etc., the warning must be visual (360 degrees around the vehicle AND audible. If you are responding to a call with only a courtesy light, you must follow all applicable traffic laws. The light is merely asking for the courtesy of the right of way. You might also want to consider stashing your blue light in the trunk when you cross the border too. It is illegal for any vehicle except law enforcement to display a blue light within a certain distance of a public road. Also, as an Emergency Vehicle Operator instructor, even running lights and sirens will not protect you if you decide to run a stop sign or stop light. You still have the responsibility to drive with due regard in all circumstances.

  • firemedicmcse

    Here in Alabama we have Blue for police with some police having red with their blue. Red/White/Amber for Fire/Rescue. Amber for Tow Trucks. Volunteers cannot run with emergency lights on their POV's unless they get a special light permit, which can be a pain in the rear to get

  • totwtytr

    I'm not in favor of federal standards for just about anything, including emergency light colors. Since most people do most of their driving in their home state, most people know to pull over for an emergency vehicle. Mostly, they don't care what it is as long as it's not a police car pulling them over to give them a ticket!

  • Steve

    In response to Nick. In PA, CHIEF ranks can run red lights…and a siren..but all others must run blue. In Ohio, FFs & EMTs run red.
    The State police here run red, white and blue…and Im told police are the only ones allowed to run the combo like that. As a fire photographer, I run (while stopped) a yellow light, mainly to keep yahoos from running into my parked vehicle while they are rubbernecking all the shiney fire trucks…and in PA, you can run yellow as long as you are a “special vehicle” although there is no definition in the state code as to what a “special vehicle” is. Im guessing, tow trucks, snow plows, mail cars, pizza delivery cars, surbey crews, highway maint. vehicles…and anybody else who wants one.

  • Chitownmedic

    Having been a POC years ago in Dixmoor, Illinois I don't believe that blue light privileges should exist for the main reasons that, #1 – the Illinois S.O.S will not extend the operator's of non-departmental vehicles the right to skirt traffic laws (ie: having to stay stationary at a red traffic light) while using a blue light even if said operator uses due regard for safety. 2nd – Very few motorists respect a person driving a vehicle that does not appear to be official looking the right of way using a blue light. Only when I see a Fire Chief who's using a red dash light in his/her personal vehicle do I see other motorists giving heed to that operator. I say if you're going to give your personnel emergency response privileges in their personal autos, do it like Wisconsin. It's all or nothing, lights & sirens .

    • Peach

      Agreed…when I first started in emergency services in the great *cough* state of New Jersey, it was Baby Blues only…a waste of money if you had to buy them yourself. Since moving to Wisconsin, I have found that Reds and Sirens Work…MOST people will move out of your way…I really not need to BREAK the law (speed, run intersections) if people move out of the way, I still get to the FD quicker then I would with no warning devices.

  • CHITOWNMEDIC

    You are correct, the Red/Green issue was due to a tradition started by the Navy guys that joined the ranks of the CFD years ago after the Korean War I believe . And it is only suppossed to be on the fire apparatus. The Ambulances didn't count (the reason why the Ambo's are not painted/logo'd the same like the trks) because they are EMS & CFD does not give the same credance to EMS as they do FSR . The only ambo I remember that had the green light in it's grill was a former rig that was used by Support & Logistics for a supply wagon out on Kedzie when SLD used to be there . No-No, I assure you in Chicago green lights on the ambulances are very taboo !!

  • firefighter49

    I think there should be a standard for everyone. Any emergency responder should have rights to respond to call as the same as police and fire. You cant confuse the public when responding to call and not expect them not to pull over.

  • firefighter49

    I think there should be a standard for everyone. Any emergency responder should have rights to respond to call as the same as police and fire. You cant confuse the public when responding to call and not expect them not to pull over.

  • John

    In New Mexico, red is the only recognized emergency color. Many agencies use a combination of lighting but red is the only one that matters. There is no “standard” in NM. Tow trucks can use anything but red. Volunteers can operate red lights and sirens but it is frowned upon these days. To top it all off, the restriction on red lights is “forward facing only” so we see highway/construction using red to the rear, probably to get people to slow down. Green is still used mostly for the ICP, LE uses red/blue mostly, fire uses red/amber/white mostly and EMS uses mostly red/white.

  • Seanm028

    I personally like Arizona’s policy: Amber is meant for caution, and can be used by anyone who would need to warn other motorists to be cautious (construction vehicles, etc.). You do not need any legal authority to use amber.

    Every other color (red, blue, green, purple, chartreuse…) is reserved for emergency vehicles only, as designated by the State Department of Transportation. Any emergency vehicle can use any color or combination of colors.

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  • Driver trainer

    After reading rules or emergency light on emergency units put out by the USDOT I would like to see them used country wide. They showed in areas of less than 500,000 people that red/blue/yellow/white and for areas over 500,000 people all red on ambulances & fire trucks, all blue on police, green on Federal units only. This works well in my rural area, white LEDS are seen farther ahead during the daylight, red works well at night and blue cuts the fog better. In my own car/truck I have a blue/white to respond for I am a first responder. We do not use light in personal units to respond to the station in our ambulance service but the fire dept does. I have not had my light on the dash for over two year but once setting on the interstate in which I set it in the back window so people could see it coming up.
    I was pulled over in WIS about one year ago because I had blue lights on my ambulance. It would be nice to see everything the same across the country. It is a pain when you are transporting someone to Minnesota to a hospital and get stopped by some young trooper trying to find something to right a ticket for.

  • http://twitter.com/ssgjbroyles John Broyles

    Here in downstate IL (a little farther south of you) blue is for Volunteers no siren.

    PURPLE is used for FUNERALS

  • FireForYou

    Nationwide System = Agreed

    I now live in Central Wisconsin but when I used to live west of the Eau Claire area this was sometimes a problem for me. To avoid the headache I never “hard” installed any of my warning lights. I never did have an issue on the few occasions I left my lights on the dash when I crossed over into Minn, however I did get questioned one time by a Saint Paul officer in regards to my radio scanner. Mobile or scanner use in a motor vehicle is illegal in Minn unless you are a sworn officer. As a professional courtesy he did not write me on it, I was not running the scanner at the time he stopped me for my out tail light I was not aware of.

    Blue for Law Enforcement
    Red for Fire/EMS
    White Universal
    Amber Universal/Other Warning Vehicles
    Green/Purple ECT for…whatever? LoL

  • ncvac3

    Here in NY
    Red / White / Amber with 1 blue to the rear Police
    Red / White / Amber Ambulance (some also have blue to the rear)
    Blue for Volunteer FD (courtesy light)
    Green for Volunteer EMS (courtesy light)
    Purple for Clergy / Funeral
    Amber for Safety — Tow, Plows, DOT ect
    New York also states for volunteers that they must have either blue or green forward but can have any color to the rear.

  • bwebber09

    what if i put a green bubble dash light and used it for fun here in south carolina, would i get arrested?

  • Cortxseries

    Here on my fire department here in Missouri, our engine runs red, blue, white, amber, and green. Green is only used for incident command around here. Our Fire, LE, and EMS official vehicles can run whatever color they wish, but when it comes to POV, blue only, but I have seen many run red and blue and never get a word said to them, so im not so sure anymore how that goes. I myself run blue, with siren. I rarely need to run code, since I am only 3 blocks from the station and usually first their, but I do because I have an a$$h0l3 neighbor.

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Chris Kaiser aka "Ckemtp"

I am a paramedic trying to advance the idea that the Emergency Medical Services can be made into the profession that we all want it, need it, and know it deserves to be.
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  • Comments
    Алексей Рукин
    So You Think You Can EKG?
    78% accuracy... and I'm not even a medical student, only a blog reader...
    2014-07-12 18:12:00
    Another One Bites the Dust (Part 2) | Medic15
    The Five Second Rule – Six Ways you can Reduce Pauses in Compressions and Save More Lives with CPR
    […] 5,7,9 http://www.lifeunderthelights.com/2014/03/24/the-five-second-rule-six-ways-you-can-reduce-pauses-in-… […]
    2014-07-09 18:39:31
    EMT Student
    You BLS guys have got this, right?
    Sorry for the misspelled words. I typed this message via phone.
    2014-07-04 01:39:00
    EMT Student
    You BLS guys have got this, right?
    As an EMT in training(student), I am more dissapointed in the fact that every EMT or Paramedic I have come in contact with (on clinicals) is a burnout who doesn't want to be in an ambulance at all. These leads me to belive im going to hate my future career due to all the slacking…
    2014-07-04 01:36:00
    Nicole
    EMS Autism Awareness Shirts – Ends March 17th, 2014
    sucks I didnt see it on time :(
    2014-06-23 23:37:00

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