in My station

White = chief, Deputy Chief, and Ass. Chief

Red = Captains 

Blue = Lieutenants 

Orange = Safety Officer 

Black with green shield = sergeant 

Black = just a firefighter

Yellow = Probies  

Views: 8580

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Many fora, in their FAQ section request that (new) members use the search function first to see if a previous discussion has been posted.  Perhaps this is because the particular website managers feel that a constant posting of repeat topics takes up valuable space.  I'm guess that FFN is like gmail, with unlimited available storage.

This topic is not unlike those topics where people come in and ask for people to help them write school papers.  It's just easier to throw a question out there and wait for answers than to do any research.  I think that it telegraphs a lot about the person who asks rather than researches (and no, I don't believe asking in here is the same as researching, moreover a topic such as helmet color is not about research but more along the line of stamp collecting.)

But back to the *point* of this particular discussion:  How come (and given the apparent value in previous discussions) there are no specific helmet colors for "exterior firefighters"?  If helmet color is of some significance on the fireground then wouldn't knowing quickly who can and who can not go interior be paramount?

[For 'exterior firefighters' I suggest a long flowing ribbon (the color of which can be its own discussion topic) attached to the top of the helmet.  This way exterior FFs can be readily identified.  Of course, for those 'exterior firefighters' who may actually get close to the burning building, the ribbon could be nomex.  I think a ribbon 3-4 ft long, flowing gracefully as 'exterior firefighters' amble hurriedly move from one area of the lawn to another would be quite spectacular to see and rather poetic.]

What kind of helmet?

Exactly, and very well explained.

In my county we have whats called "Accountability Tags", color coding gear is not prevalent any more, the tags represent a number of things simply by looking at them and/or scanning them with the bar code; Bottom of the tag is color coded to status, i.e exterior, interior, ect.  Top of tag is color coded to dept, our color is green.  In the top part of the tag you will also find any titles that person may have such as chief, captain, etc in reflective lettering. All of the pertinent training of that member is listed on the back.  If you scan the bar code you get training, and health information such as blood type, medical issues (asthma, diabetes) and contact info for family doctors.

We dont need to look at the color of helmets to know who is IC or officer because we all know in advance by training with mutual aid departments who their officers are and we keep each other posted on officer changes.  I agree it may be important to see who is officer, but is it worth space in these forums to discuss something that should be common knowledge??

I have to state one thing about the color Red for helmets. In our county Red is a rookie or junior member. In a neighboring county that color could be a captain or LT and many times at border depts on mutual aid responses to have a crew from another county to walk up to a Red helmet in our county and ask what needs to be done. I have seen some depts spend the money to buy all red gear for rookies or juniors to point out who they are, but years ago our neighbor dept bought all red gear for all their members before the county step in and made everyone wear the same color PPE or told them what they can buy and where.

....long flowing ribbon.....way too funny. Love it.

firefighters on ice...

fire emergency personnel on ice.




white = chief and assistant chief

red = captains and lieutenants

black = firefighters

yellow = probies

John's comment is appropriate. There have been many similar discussions in the past. You'll find more there by using the search function.

This may work fine with small departments working alongside other small departments where everyone is know by sight, but what about large incidents with dozens of firefighters, all total strangers to each other.

It's a very parochial outlook to assume that all fire departments are small enough that every one is a familiar face.   Many departments employ hundreds if not thousands of firefighters, that is why it is essential to identify instantly what a firefighter's rank is by sight.  Coloured helmets do this a treat, instant recognition of rank without checking bar codes and fancy badges.

"but is it worth space in these forums to discuss something that should be common knowledge??"   Yes it is, because new folk are always joining and new insights can come up when reopening a topic.  If this is done by resurrecting an older discussion or starting a new one is not of any importance.  Facilitating discussion is what it's all about.

I agree.  On any working fire in DC we have over 50 firefighters on scene.  This is a fire that isn't even upgraded to multiple alarms.  It can get confusing.  

Here it's simple.  Officers wear white, firefighters wear black, probationary firefighters have a red shield on their black helmet.  Chiefs have a white coat but they usually don't get out of their buggy(suburban) anyway.  They run the scene from inside there.

My comment was not geared specifically for small departments and I see your point Andy, but I was right in some ways.  Even in bigger departments (Which I was a member of 2, one with 100 members and 600 calls annually and one with 75 members and 300-400 calls annually)  you should be drilling with each other, if not monthly at least annually so you are familiar with the mutual aid capabilities.  I hope you do have a working relationship with your primary mutual aid companies, its vital.

On these forums, discussing mundane things like helmet colors, light bar packages, what tools do you carry in your pockets, and other little things have all been discussed already, and a simple search of the archives could produce more than enough information for this brother in regards to helmet colors.  I meant no insult to the original poster either so I hope he did not take it that way, I would just like to see more intelligent discussion about bigger topics facing the fire service.  I have been a member here for a few years now, and belong to other sites as well, and you see it everywhere, the same old discussions about simple things that we shouldnt be focused on that much.  Yes, in your department you should discuss the importance of rank identification and the ICS or NIMS systems and who to take orders from, especially with newer members, but here you will only find mass confusion on this topic because as you see in these posts, there are hundreds of different styles out there-Hell, one guy even said his department has red helmets for probies yet their neighboring department has red helmets for captains.  It should be a discussion, but one held in your area with your department and your mutual aid companies.  I still think that discussing these things here is realy a waste of time, but still see the importance of it like you said.  I guess its a personal opinion which we are both allowed to express.


By the way, the "fancy badges" you are talking about are nothing but basic accountability tags, which a majority of the departments are using.  Ours here are very basic compared to other departments systems and are used very effectively.  Its a simple system with 2 colors and some large reflective print and a bar code that is scanned on a laptop computer, it also has our picture on it.  I dont know why you would refer to the system in the way you did, with quotations and all.  Its basic accountability 101, dont you guys have a system?  Do you have tags, or some other type of system?  Do you use the electronic accountability with the PASS alarms and base station?  Just curious to know, thanks in advance.

Stay Safe.

I don't think those were the types of departments he was talking about.  600 runs is a small rural town I'm guessing.  That's not really a large department.  Like I said, even at a small fire here we have 50+ guys.  This is something that happens on a daily basis.  There's no way to learn who every one is here through training like you said because we are on different shifts.  Even the ones on my shift are tough to know.  We don't have time to train with companies on the other side of the city with our call volume and there's just too many people.  Over 2000 guys and 170,000 runs.

I understand capcity, you are obviously speaking in terms of a career department...Yes, you will never know everyone.  But that is the basis of my last comment; you need to have that discussion in house with your people and make sure they know it, talking about it here will only confuse him (original poster) and he should just search the archives to get what he needs.

600 calls annually is a big thing for people like me in a rural volunteer setting, obviously guys like you who run out of a career department do as many calls a month as we do in a year but that was not my point.  I am referring to the volunteer stations, big or small (or super huge like in your statistics) routinely get together for training in our area on an annual basis.  There are not a lot of officers in our departments, we are talking about 3-4 chief officers and either 3-6 line officers per department, depending on size of the rosters.  If we meet regularly for drills with each other we learn who the officers are, not only because of their white helmets for chiefs, but because we work with them regularly and know them.  We have that luxury as a small rural department and it pays off big time when we respond to large fires.  Our firefighters know where their tools and equipment are located and vice-versa, and each department knows the other departments chief, assistant chiefs and at least their captains so on big scenes its a no brainer who is giving the orders.  On top of that we have the ICS in place, the first arriving officer calls on scene, assuming command, using their department ID number.  In our area that is a 4 digit number; first two designate the department and the last two designate the officer.  Example, we are the second department in the county so the have it as "20", the chief in the county for all departments are "11", so our chief is 2-0-1-1.  I am the first captain and my number is 2014.  If we hear our mutual aid department chief (1511) call on scene, he is IC and we listen to him unless chain of command is relinquished.  Maybe this should be about ICS and NIMS instead of the color of the helmet?  That would help this poster more I feel than what color the officers wear.

What system do you all use, ICS, NIMS or both?  Any body use any different models?  How do departments in other countries do Incident Command, I feel that would be an interesting discussion and we would learn more.

Thanks everyone in advance.

Stay Safe


Sorry Moose, I didn't mean to disparage the accountability tags it's just that a coloured helmet or tabard/jacket are so much easier to spot.

White- Chief and Assistant Chief

Red- Captains

Black- Secretary, Treasure and Firefighter

Orange- Student

Reply to Discussion


FireRescue Magazine

Find Members Fast

Or Name, Dept, Keyword
Invite Your Friends
Not a Member? Join Now

© 2021   Created by Firefighter Nation WebChief.   Powered by

Badges  |  Contact Firefighter Nation  |  Terms of Service