Oh boy. I was at the firehouse with some of the other guys today and we were discussing our tanker and the use of red lights and sirens when responding to the scene. Some of us think its okay, some just say no. I'm not sure which states, but some states have it that any new tanker built cannot have red lights or sirens.

What's your opinion on this?

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Don, I can't believe you are still on this subject. I can't seem to get this concept across to my chief or tanker operators. So i don't think you or I will have much chance of getting a lot of people on here to grasp this simple truth. I'm sure they all drive safe with the lights and sirens going. They all have their seat belts on. Stop at every intersection. Do a vehicle inspection before leaving and so on. We all know the water officer won't know if you are in line waiting to dump if he can't see your lights going. He'll think you are on coffee break.  

This whole topic reminds me of this Paul combs cartoon.  We all scream safety, Safety, SAFETY!  But hen it comes to something as simple as not running hot with red lights and siren when there is no longer a need it is like we are asking them to surrender their manhood.

Another radical concept is only sending the closest one or 2 pieces of apparatus hot for fire alarm investigations.  If they arrive and it is nothing cancel everyone else just driving to the call normally.  If they arrive and find a working fire upgrade the assignment and everyone runs hot. 

I know what my mission is and I will push it on my 2 FDs.  Whether it gets anywhere is a good guess, but if people are as set in their ways as they seem here it will be an uphill battle to say the least!


Here is a concept that has some wondering about. The Onondaga Sheriff has put amber lenses on all rear flashing lights on their light bars on all the patrol cars. After they had a couple bad accidents were people have slammed into there cars they did there own study. They found the amber lights did not blind the driver coming up on them. Also 98% of drivers would do everything they could to get away from them. We will have to see if this takes off. Like I've said before here in New York with the Red-Blue-White and Amber lights on the rear of every emergency vehicle; You are not sure if you're at a emergency scene or a bright Christmas light convention. 

I know my ladder truck on my career FD had an amber flasher on the center back to go along with the red lights.


Firstly: The whole purpose of being Fire Department is when you turn out to any incident, is that the public can know and see you turning out to emergency call. For over +- 150 years dogs, bells, siren and warning lights was used. Therefor in South Africa it law that all EMS vehicles use warning lights and siren. This include tankers, grassfire unit. We have shortage of water, for big call we could easy dispatch 2 to 4 tankers. They are needed immediately. They travel far distance. As soon as you remove warning lights and sirens, or not use them, then this vehicle is bound by traffic laws. This means that tanker will take forever to reach the incident. This will make it useless.
Secondly: Day and night warning lights provide safety for vehicle and fire fighters. When they on, the public no there is an incident.


First of all, no one said to never run emergent, meaning using red lights and sirens.  What I have said, repeatedly, is once water is no longer an emergency, such as you have tankers lined up waiting to dump, there is no longer a need to run emergent.  All it does at that point is create an unnecessary hazard.


Secondly, here in the US you are STILL BOUND by the traffic laws.  All the warning lights and sirens do is ask permission to go through intersections and go through traffic.  If you get into an accident because you blew an intersection or whatever YOU are responsible even if your warning devices were operating.


Thirdly, I don't agree that warning lights and a siren always provide safety.  Many times my career FD would turn our lights and sirens off when responding on the freeway because all we did was impede traffic and cause confusion.  We would turn them back on when we neared the scene to let drivers know we were going to be going to work and needed clearance. 


I firmly believe that driving the speed limit and following all traffic laws is the safest way to operate fire apparatus.  There will of course be times when we must run emergent, but there are many times when the only reason we do it is because we have always done it that way.

Yes they should have lights and sirens; however, with ANY emergency vehicle running on an expressway, should have the siren off in my opinion until they get close to the scene, traffic becomes heavy, and approaching and exiting the expressway; a short/long blast of the air-horns can aide.  You travel faster than sound on the expressway, therefore, the sirens are not heard until you're basically on top of the vehicle(s) in your pathway.  In the city/country all system go (lights, siren, anything to aide in announcing your presence to other drivers/pedestrians). 

I have found myself (Western States) several times on the expressway where I have seen the lights and not hear the sirens until they are about a car length behind me (I had already cleared the lane) and I have not heard the sirens until it has passed me in the opposite direction, but seen the lights way ahead.  



Again, here in Wisconsin if you are moving with your red lights on the law clearly says the siren must also be operating.



i believe so as well. what was their reasoning for not thinking its a good idea? im just curious

Peerhaps they rethought the idea of vehicles with up to 30,000 pounds of water onboard didn't need to exceed the speed limit, run through traffic signals and stop signs, and further endanger their own members and the public.  You know, something crazy and inconsequential like that.

Don go back and read Wisconsin motor vehicle law Chapter 346.03(3) 

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