In the state of Massachusetts, some vehicles are authorized to display emergency lights. The state laws define the different colored lights that are allowed to be used by certain vehicles depending on their roles. There are also rules about where the warning light should be mounted on the vehicle, and when the lights are allowed to be turned on and used. It is important to adhere to the following Massachusetts state statutes for the vehicles listed below.
Massachusetts state statute 90-7E () provides for police vehicles to display blue and red emergency lights. Police cars and trucks are permitted to mount a red light that flashes or rotates in the reverse direction from which the police vehicle is traveling.
There are many vehicles within the police department that are permitted to display blue police lights that oscillate or flash. Any town or state police vehicle that is used exclusively for law enforcement purposes within the state, including transporting those who have been arrested or are in custody, can mount blue lights. This section of the law also includes railroad police departments or college and university police departments in cases where the officers have been appointed as special police officers for the state.
Additionally, a police officer from any town or agency within the state can apply to permit their registered vehicle to be outfitted with blue lights and used in a official capacity. The officer's chief of police or the head of the agency must authorize the use of the lights and the town registrar must issue the permit. Police commissioners, police chaplains, and medical examiners and doctors who meet the same stipulations can also request a permit to display blue lights on their vehicles. The permit must be carried at all times and be easily accessed when operating the vehicle. The lights are only allowed to be activated when responding to an emergency, and permission to have and use the lights can be revoked if the duties change or the rules for use are not followed.
Fire Truck Lights
Per Massachusetts state statute 90-7E, any fire apparatus can display an oscillating or flashing red light, as well as a blue light that turns in the reverse direction that the fire truck is traveling. Additionally, a vehicle that is owned by fire department personnel may be outfitted with red lights and used to respond to fires and emergencies. This includes vehicles owned by the chief or deputy chief, a fire chaplain, , or any other member of a town fire department. These lights are only permitted to be displayed when the driver of the vehicle is authorized to respond to a fire or an alarm.
In order to mount red lights on these vehicles, the proper application must be submitted to the town registrar by the fire chief. A permit will then be issued to the vehicle operator. If the fire fighter driving the vehicle is not the person to whom the vehicle is registered, the owner must send the registrar a written notice that asserts their knowledge that the emergency light will be affixed to their vehicle prior to the permit being issued.
At times when a person operates the vehicle with the red fire truck lights engaged, they must have the aforementioned permit on hand in an easily accessible location to produce when requested. When the driver of the vehicle no longer meets the requirements to possess the red lights on their vehicle, the fire chief will notify the registrar and the permit will be revoked. Additionally, the permit can be revoked by the registrar at any time when a written request is submitted by either the police or fire chief for the town in which the permit was valid. The registrar can also nullify the permit if the operator activates the lights in an unauthorized situation, and a fine could be levied on the driver.
Volunteer Fire Fighter Lights
Volunteer fire fighters can apply to have their vehicles outfitted with emergency lights according to Massachusetts state statute 90-7E. These fire fighters can submit an application to mount red lights that flash or oscillate onto their vehicles. The fire chief of the town must give authorization to the town registrar in order for the permit to be issued. If the vehicle is registered to someone other than the volunteer fire fighter, the owner is required to send to the registrar a written acknowledgment that they allow the emergency light to be mounted atop their vehicle.
Volunteer fire fighter lights are only permitted to be used when going to a fire or other emergency. These drivers must keep the permit handy when operating their vehicle with the lights activated. The permit to display the lights can be revoked if the rules for use are not followed, or when the duties of the individual change or cease.
Any ambulance within the state of Massachusetts can display flashing or oscillating red lights per statute 90-7E. Ambulances are not permitted to display blue lights.
An emergency response service call member can also apply to have their personal car outfitted with red lights. The department head must authorize the need for the lights to be mounted on the vehicle, and the town registrar must approve. The permit, once received, must be kept handy when the person is operating the vehicle. The lights are also only permitted to be used when responding to an emergency. Privileges to use the light can be revoked if the emergency responder no longer requires the use of the lights, or the rules for when to use the light are broken.
Tow Truck Lights
A person or garage that provides motorist assistance is permitted to display emergency vehicle lights per state statute 540 CMR 22.00. A tow truck is allowed to be outfitted with an oscillating, rotating or flashing amber light. The lights should be in use when the truck is actively engaged in a tow. The trucks require a permit to display the amber lights, which should be carried with the driver at all times.
Construction Vehicle Lights
According to state statute 540 CMR 22.00, construction vehicles are permitted to display amber lights that rotate, flash, or oscillate when in use. The lights should be displayed when the vehicle is moving slowly or parked on a road or highway, in the best interest of public safety. A permit is required to display the amber lights, and the permit should be kept on hand with the operator of the vehicle at all times.
Utility Vehicle Lights
Massachusetts state statute 540 CMR 22.00 allows for utility vehicles to display flashing or rotating amber lights. This applies to both public utility vehicles owned by the town or state, or those owned by private companies. The lights should be activated whenever the vehicle is responding to an emergency or providing service or repair. A permit is required to display the amber lights, and should be carried with the operator at all times while driving the vehicle.
Pilot Vehicle Light
According to state statute 700 CMR 7.07(4)(d), pilot vehicles for oversized loads must display two amber flashing lights that are visible from the front and rear. Additionally, the pilot car should be outfitted with 2 red flags measuring 24 inches square, mounted to the left and right rear of the car. A sign reading "oversized load" must also be mounted to the pilot vehicle.
Security Vehicle Lights
Vehicles providing security services are permitted to display amber lights that oscillate or flash per state statute 540 CMR 22.00. This includes private home security vehicles as well as private detective and security agencies. The lights should only be engaged when the vehicle is on the way to respond to a security emergency. A permit is required to display amber lights and should be kept on hand and easily accessible whenever driving the vehicle.
All personal vehicles applying for a red, blue or amber light permit must do so through the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. The application is not available on the website, and must be filled out and submitted in person. Additionally, applicants should be sure to bring any necessary documentation or authorizations they might require to obtain the permit when they visit the RMV.
There are strict laws about the use of emergency vehicle lights in the state of Massachusetts. Vehicles can only display specifically colored lights depending on their role. Additionally, there must be express permission to utilize rotating, oscillating or strobe lights on personal vehicles. Nearly all lights require permits to be granted and carried with the operator, so it is important to be familiar with the laws surrounding emergency lights.
For more information about what lights may be available to you, we suggest calling your State Highway Patrol office at: 508-820-2300
*Please note that these numbers are what we are currently able to find and the numbers may have changed since this listing.
Disclaimer: The emergency vehicle light state statute guide was created by Extreme Tactical Dynamics as a guide and reference. We make no claim to the accuracy or validity of this guide. This guide was written to the best of our knowledge and has been provided to our customers as a courtesy ONLY! The information in this guide is our interpretation of the law as we have read it. We cannot be held responsible for any errors as this is only our interpretation of the law and the laws are constantly changing. We cannot be held liable or responsible for any errors and recommend that our customers refer to their local authorities to confirm the particular statue that governs their use of emergency vehicle lights.