First responders to any emergency, whether it be a vehicle accident, a fire, a natural disaster, or any other emergency, must make sure that their emergency vehicles have the right type of emergency lights to ensure that the emergency vehicle can be easily seen from near and far. When lights are clearly seen and indicate that there's an emergency in that location it keeps first responders safe while doing their jobs. It also helps to keep other vehicles, pedestrians or other area residents or business owners safe since they can see at a glance where the emergency is and allow them to take appropriate action, whether it be yielding to first responders, or vacating or avoiding an active emergency location.
Other types of governmental and municipal vehicles also use lighting to signal caution.
Emergency lights should be very bright and easily seen at a distance. The emergency lights also need to be prominently mounted on various parts of the emergency vehicle so that they can be seen from all directions. They should also be the appropriate colors for the emergency vehicle in question.
Emergency Light Colors for First Responders and Other Official Vehicles in the US.
Red is the most common color used to denote an emergency and is usually mounted on fire trucks and police vehicles, as well as on rescue squad vehicles.
Blue: Police and other law enforcement vehicles typically mount blue lights or a combination of blue and red lights. Volunteer firefighters and rescue squad members in some states may also use blue lights in their private vehicles when they're deploying to the firehouse or squad building in response to an emergency.
Yellow or Amber: Construction vehicles usually use amber lights to signify caution, often because these vehicles move slower than traffic or sometimes block traffic. Towtrucks and security patrols may also use amber lights. Snowplows and other municipal service vehicles use yellow emergency lights. Rescue squad vehicles sometimes combine red and yellow emergency lighting. School buses use both amber and red lights to notify approaching traffic to slow or stop when a school bus is loading or unloading.
Green: In some states a green emergency light will indicate a mobile command post, a fire chief's car or a volunteer firefighter's vehicle.
White: A school bus or tanker truck for fueling will often use a flashing white light.
Types of Emergency Lights for Vehicles
Emergency lights include rotating lights, strobe lights and LED lights. The lights can be mounted on the top of the vehicle, flush mounted inside the windshield and back window enclosure on either the top or bottom, mounted within the front grill and mounted on both the front and back bumpers.
Most new emergency response vehicles nowadays are being mounted with LED emergency lights. There are good reasons for this.
LED lights are very bright with a very intense color which is in the bulb itself, rather than in the lens, so they can be stealth mounted in law enforcement vehicles. When in use the emergency light's color is very evident from a long distance outdoors day or night.
LED lights last many times longer than other types of lights, significantly lessening maintenance costs.
LED lights are much smaller than their older incandescent or halogen counterparts, resulting in a much smaller wind resistance surface. This saves on fuel costs when driving.
LED lights use much less energy, saving vehicle battery life.
LED light bars can have a number of color and pattern variations programmed into their control panel to offer the user a choice of the most appropriate pattern to use in different emergency situations.
LED light construction is solid state, making them much more weather resistant for outdoor use. Also, because there are no thin wire filaments to shake loose or break, LEDs are much more reliable.
Choosing the right emergency lights for a first responder vehicle is one of the most important tasks when equipping a new response vehicle. Ensuring that the emergency lights are well placed and work well for the intended use will help keep both first responder personnel and the general public safe when the lights are in use in an emergency situation.