The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10-31-2009, 01:35 PM
vifslan vifslan is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Are fire engines universally red?

What it said. I remember the first time I went to Germany and realised that police cars could be green and white instead of the ultramarine and white that I was used to. Red is the easiest colour to notice and react to, but on the other hand, who wouldn't react to a huge fire engine with ladders on the roof, regardless if its colour?

So if anyone lives in a country where fire engines aren't red, please raise your hand.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 10-31-2009, 01:39 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: NoWA
Posts: 47,430
Most fire engines I've seen are red, but another popular colour is a very bright yellow-green. ('Neon green'?) I've also seen at least one white one.

EDIT: Here's a green one from Miami.

And a white one.
.

Last edited by Johnny L.A.; 10-31-2009 at 01:43 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 10-31-2009, 01:41 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 21,829
I am not sure where you are but yellow or lime-yellow fire trucks are fairly common in the U.S. Red is still most popular because of tradition but studies show that a yellow color is safer and more visible for night emergencies.

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&source=...c9ea851cee2c5b
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 10-31-2009, 01:44 PM
Tapioca Dextrin Tapioca Dextrin is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Staring blankly at my GPS
Posts: 11,247
Does Antarctica count as a country? (not that I live there)

Green or yellow in the UK - I'm guessing there's a rainbow of non reds in that last link.



eta - I was right

Last edited by Tapioca Dextrin; 10-31-2009 at 01:48 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 10-31-2009, 01:45 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: NoWA
Posts: 47,430
Here's a yellow one.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 10-31-2009, 01:53 PM
EmAnJ EmAnJ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Our are mostly yellow. They are more visible, apparently.

We do still have some red ones though.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 10-31-2009, 01:58 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Chicago,IL
Posts: 14,962
There's an old joke

Why are fire engines red?

Because there are 12" in a foot

A foot is also a ruler

Queen Elizabeth is a ruler

Queen Elizabeth is also a ship

Ships sail the seas

There's fish in the seas

Fish have finns

The Finns fought the Russians

And that's why fire engines are red

Because they are always rushin'

Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 10-31-2009, 02:07 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 21,829
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapioca Dextrin View Post
San Francisco is looking to switch to a fleet of pink fire trucks as well because of cost savings. They won't need flashing lights and a siren. Gay firemen will simply sit on top and wave their arms around like a rodeo cowboy and yell "Whoo, Whoo!".
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 10-31-2009, 02:19 PM
whitetho whitetho is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: USA, North Carolina, Cary
Posts: 2,112
The school color for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is light blue -- commonly known as "Carolina Blue". Both the town and the university fire engines are this color. Light blue UNC firetruck.

Last edited by whitetho; 10-31-2009 at 02:20 PM.. Reason: with white trim...
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 10-31-2009, 02:58 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
It was a big deal when our town bought a new fire engine. It was yellow, so it was nicknamed "Yellow Bird", since that Caribbean-themed song was popular at the time.


But most of the fire engines I've seen have, in fact, been red.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 10-31-2009, 03:05 PM
tetranz tetranz is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Here in my little town in New Hampshire the three or so fire engines are all white.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 10-31-2009, 03:29 PM
Fir na tine Fir na tine is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
I've seen them at conventions in New England in numerous shades of red, white, blue, yellow, orange and "slime green". At one time in the 60's there was a study that said the "slime green" was safer and more visible. In the early to mid 90's that study was found to be incorrect, red was more universally recognized and accepted. Don't have a cite handy but many cities that had adopted "slime" are changing back to red as they replace apparatus.

Recently some authority came up with the massive reflective diagonal striping that is beginning to appear on the rear of ambulances and fire trucks in the US.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 10-31-2009, 03:42 PM
UncleBill UncleBill is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by whitetho View Post
The school color for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is light blue -- commonly known as "Carolina Blue". Both the town and the university fire engines are this color. Light blue UNC firetruck.
I just threw up in my mouth a little.

UncleBill
Duke, 1988
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 10-31-2009, 03:49 PM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Shakedown Street
Posts: 12,171
*sigh*

When will we get it together? Fire engines should be mauve.

Silly backwater planet.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 10-31-2009, 04:20 PM
St. Urho St. Urho is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Denver has white fire trucks.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 10-31-2009, 05:29 PM
MikeS MikeS is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Williamstown, MA
Posts: 3,226
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhythmdvl View Post
When will we get it together? Fire engines should be mauve.

Silly backwater planet.
Right after we rename Belgium to something less rude. </derail>
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 10-31-2009, 05:44 PM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Mesa, Ariz.
Posts: 2,348
Around here we got red ones, we got white ones, we got yellow-green ones. It all depends on which town you're in. We got dark blue ambulances, too.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 10-31-2009, 07:27 PM
Raguleader Raguleader is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
On the base I'm stationed at, the Fire trucks are either bright red or bright yellow. The red ones respond to fires on the camo-clad part of the base, and the yellow ones respond to fires on the airfield (the "Crash Trucks" are have special equipment for dealing with burning airplanes)
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 10-31-2009, 11:09 PM
IAmNotSpartacus IAmNotSpartacus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
US Forest Service fire trucks are green that remind me of the little mermaid
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 11-01-2009, 03:15 AM
vifslan vifslan is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Once again, ignorance was well and truly fought. Thanks all!
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 11-01-2009, 02:04 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
Mod Rocker
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: N E Ohio
Posts: 35,936
Tangent:
Quote:
Originally Posted by vifslan View Post
realised that police cars could be green and white instead of the ultramarine and white that I was used to.
In the U.S. and Canada, police cars can be a lot of different colors.

For a long time, (but before most of you were born), the traditional colors were black and white, with the the pattern being various alternating changes among the doors, fenders, quarter panels, hoods/bonnets, trunks/boots, and roofs. That tradition has not faded, completly, and in a number of places, a police car is called a "black and white." However, whites, various shades of blues and violets, greens, and browns are also employed. (I don't actually recall seeing many red or yellow cop cars, although Toronto famously had their "big yellow taxis" until the mid-'80s and I know a couple of departments that bought bright red sports cars to go after, (and entrap?), speeders.)

Last edited by tomndebb; 11-01-2009 at 02:05 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 11-01-2009, 02:15 PM
Pray for peace Pray for peace is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
There's a purple fire truck in a town close to where I live. I couldn't find a link for that one, but here's another purple fire truck (from Greenville, NC). Here's a site with fire trucks in different colors.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 11-01-2009, 02:18 PM
Bisected8 Bisected8 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
They're normally red in Britain, but a while ago there was a firefighter's strike and they drafted in the army to take their place. The army used "Green Goddesses" which, as the name implies, are green.

Last edited by Bisected8; 11-01-2009 at 02:20 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 11-01-2009, 03:44 PM
Mister Rik Mister Rik is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: The bunghole of WA
Posts: 10,191
Around here (central Washington, my vicinity anyway) city FD trucks are red, while the county FD trucks are lime green.

Among the various law enforcement agencies, the city PD cars are blue, the county sheriff's department uses sort of a brownish-gold, and the state patrol uses white.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 11-01-2009, 05:10 PM
KCB615 KCB615 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Southcoast Massachusetts
Posts: 774
In my 15+ years of firefighting, I have never driven a red fire engine. Sad, but true.

My non-compensated department uses white with a red stripe.

My career department uses "safety lime yellow," which is mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration for any airport fire apparatus that federal money is used to purchase. If you see a non-slime-yellow fire engine at an airport, someone else's money (the airport's, city's, etc) was used to purchase it.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit a fire engine factory, take the trip. The paint departments have literally every color you can think of. I've been to a large manufacturer in Ocala, Florida; they claimed (and showed) paint chips for something like 1200 different shades of red. That didn't include the varieties of everything else.

There is no set standard for fire apparatus colors in the US. There is, as Fir na tine said above, a new NFPA requirement to have wide diagonal striping on the rear of new fire engines to try to usher traffic away. It's been used in Europe for many years, but it's pretty new to us. I don't know if any studies have been done to see if it works yet.
__________________
Service to the falling public....
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 11-01-2009, 06:31 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
SDSAB
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: At the Diogenes Club
Posts: 45,360
Quote:
Originally Posted by Markxxx View Post
...And that's why fire engines are red

Because they are always rushin'

Did you hear about the Southern good ol' boy who insisted that the Three Wise Men must've been volunteer firemen? Because the Bible said "they came from afar...."

We have some bright yellow firetrucks around the Greater Cleveland, Ohio area, but most are still red for tradition's sake.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 11-01-2009, 08:34 PM
breezman breezman is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
The city of Auburn, AL has one orange and blue firetruck.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 11-02-2009, 06:17 AM
VunderBob VunderBob is offline
Mostly harmless
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: The VunderLair
Posts: 14,200
All of my department's trucks have red on them, but two are red and white.

Green is the second most common color. The purple truck in Greenville, NC is that way because purple is the color of East Carolina University.

If you can get your hands on a copy of the Fire Trader (wanna buy a used engine?), you can see just about every paint scheme imaginable, and a few you'd never think of.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 11-02-2009, 11:25 AM
picunurse picunurse is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Seattle
Posts: 11,048
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
Most fire engines I've seen are red, but another popular colour is a very bright yellow-green. ('Neon green'?) I've also seen at least one white one.

EDIT: Here's a green one from Miami.

And a white one.
.
Hubby's team calls the chartreuse trucks "slime lime." It's used mostly for airports, says he.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 11-02-2009, 11:33 AM
BiblioCat BiblioCat is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Around here, the paid companies have all red trucks, in the same color scheme.

The volunteer companies chose their own colors. The trucks at my company are dark green, one company has black and white, another has black and red, another is is red and blue and one is bright canary yellow.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 11-02-2009, 11:42 AM
UncleRojelio UncleRojelio is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: ATX
Posts: 5,232
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fir na tine View Post
Recently some authority came up with the massive reflective diagonal striping that is beginning to appear on the rear of ambulances and fire trucks in the US.
That is what we have here in Austin. Though the fire trucks are still red.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 11-02-2009, 11:55 AM
ajdebosco ajdebosco is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Even before 9/11

In Mom's old neighborhood, the patriotic themed paint scheme truck (fourth photo) was parked outside the station most days:

http://www.indianafiretrucks.com/pag...arren/441.html
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 11-02-2009, 12:47 PM
VunderBob VunderBob is offline
Mostly harmless
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: The VunderLair
Posts: 14,200
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fir na tine View Post
Recently some authority came up with the massive reflective diagonal striping that is beginning to appear on the rear of ambulances and fire trucks in the US.
It's an OSHA mandate, and rather expensive to apply, because it's reflective ($$$) and time consuming to apply ($$$). My fire chief is dragging his feet on having it applied to our trucks ("If they want it, let them pay for it, dammit!").

The rescue squad has 4 ambulances; the newest came with the stripes, and there are plans for the 2nd newest to get retroactively striped soon.
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 11-02-2009, 12:56 PM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Charlotte
Posts: 14,335
San Francisco's traditional color is maroon. Not pink.

This site gives a very close-up view of the color, as well as some examples of other fire apparatus artwork.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 11-02-2009, 01:27 PM
palindromemordnilap palindromemordnilap is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
[QUOTE=Elendil's Heir;11729152]Did you hear about the Southern good ol' boy who insisted that the Three Wise Men must've been volunteer firemen? Because the Bible said "they came from afar...."[QUOTE]

I asked my straight-arrow brother-in-law, a firefighter, if he knew what word that started with "F" and ended in "U-C-K." He didn't think it was as funny as I do, though.
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 11-02-2009, 01:50 PM
VunderBob VunderBob is offline
Mostly harmless
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: The VunderLair
Posts: 14,200
Quote:
Originally Posted by palindromemordnilap View Post
I asked my straight-arrow brother-in-law, a firefighter, if he knew what word that started with "F" and ended in "U-C-K." He didn't think it was as funny as I do, though.
Try this one out on your BiL:

What is a four letter word ending with a K that means intercourse?

SPOILER:
Talk.

Last edited by VunderBob; 11-02-2009 at 01:51 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 11-02-2009, 01:54 PM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Troynovant
Posts: 4,871
Fire engines were all red in the UK until about the 80s, when other colours started to be used. An exception was Army fire engines which were green and known as Green Goddesses when the firemen went on strike in the 70s and the Army stepped in.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 11-03-2009, 02:24 AM
Bisected8 Bisected8 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by aldiboronti View Post
Fire engines were all red in the UK until about the 80s, when other colours started to be used. An exception was Army fire engines which were green and known as Green Goddesses when the firemen went on strike in the 70s and the Army stepped in.
There was a strike in early 2000 as well. That was the last time Green Goddesses were used since they sold them off after that.
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 11-03-2009, 06:00 AM
Wallenstein Wallenstein is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapioca Dextrin View Post
Does Antarctica count as a country? (not that I live there)

Green or yellow in the UK - I'm guessing there's a rainbow of non reds in that last link.



eta - I was right
One of those UK links is for a pink engine created as a one-off for a gay pride march (presumption is that it'll change back to red afterwards).

The other one - with the green truck to signify the committment to reducing carbon footprint - was due to come into service on 1 April
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 11-03-2009, 08:42 AM
GoodOmens GoodOmens is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapioca Dextrin View Post
Does Antarctica count as a country? (not that I live there)
Why would you need firetrucks in Antartica? Couldn't you just, you know, wait until the fire freezes?
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 11-03-2009, 09:35 AM
not austin not austin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapioca Dextrin View Post
Does Antarctica count as a country? (not that I live there)

Green or yellow in the UK - I'm guessing there's a rainbow of non reds in that last link.



eta - I was right
Did you check the date on the green one?
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 11-03-2009, 12:45 PM
Staver808 Staver808 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
As a slight derail, being a native English speaker, it never occured to me that they might be called anything other than fire trucks. Many eons ago, on a trip to Japan, I happened to see they're called water trucks (with the kanji character for Water painted on the side), which struck me as so logical, I can't believe I never questioned it before.
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 11-03-2009, 06:10 PM
BiblioCat BiblioCat is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Staver808 View Post
As a slight derail, being a native English speaker, it never occured to me that they might be called anything other than fire trucks. Many eons ago, on a trip to Japan, I happened to see they're called water trucks (with the kanji character for Water painted on the side), which struck me as so logical, I can't believe I never questioned it before.
Around here, what they're called depends on what they carry. Fire engines carry tools, fire trucks have the ladders, aerial trucks have the huge expanding ladder for reaching high places, squads have specialized rescue equipment, and tankers are the big water trucks (2,000 gallons or more).
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 11-03-2009, 08:33 PM
dobieman dobieman is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Up here in Fairbanks, Alaska, (where house fires in the winter customarily freeze and await fighting until the spring thaw when there is a sudden epidemic of them as a result) we have the lime-green engines as well as the red ones. I think there are green ones in use on the nearby army installation, Ft. Wainwright. And they may have yellow ones out at the international airport.
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 11-03-2009, 09:53 PM
Cugel Cugel is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Yellow (is that yellow?). Canberra, Australia
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3350/...eb406b2f_o.jpg

Last edited by Cugel; 11-03-2009 at 09:53 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 11-05-2009, 08:59 AM
Wall6ly Wall6ly is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
I live over in Kobe Japan, and I see quite a few that are red, but painted up with black spots so they look like ladybugs.

Last edited by Wall6ly; 11-05-2009 at 09:02 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 11-06-2009, 07:28 PM
LadyoftheMist LadyoftheMist is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
....Exiterminate?
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:05 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.