Sunday, March 28, 2010

does (apparatus) color matter?

We are all taught from the beginning of our experiences that safety is number one in our professions. Personal safety, crew safety, patient safety, scene safety…you know it.
I was sitting at work the other day and it came up in discussion that one of the local fire departments was ordering a new fire engine and had decided to go with black as the main color. Yup BLACK. The first thing that came to my mind was how is anyone going to see them on a scene at night? While I understand that light reflecting tape is used on emergency units along with multiple lights for safety, I still didn’t think that black was a safe choice of color for a piece of equipment like a fire engine. This conversation got the mouse wheel in my mind going, and I couldn’t stop myself from doing a little online research on the subject. I found plenty of information to include a slideshow presentation and eventually stumbled upon this very detailed and informing document from FEMA.
The reading is a little dry but I learned a few things about the different kinds of reflective striping and how each works individually plus I learned about NFPA standards/recommendations.
The conclusion of my research is although a black engine may look sweet it definitely is not safe, no matter how much scotchlite or how many lights you put on it. The best bet is to stick to the red, orange, slime/ yellow, or even white for the best visibility and conspicuity on scene.

1 comment:

Ellie said...

A black engine will look sweet, but you're right about visibility. All the ambos here in the UK are bright yellow, as the European Union decided that was the most visible color for emergency vehicles. They still look pretty cool, but probably because they're mercedes.