Why Are Fire Trucks Red

Before firefighting was a paid profession, most communities were served by volunteer fire departments. These firemen didn’t have much money to spend on upkeep, and at the time red was the least expensive color of paint. Red wasn’t the only color used, however. Before it merged with the force in Manhattan, the Brooklyn Fire Department painted its apparatus a two-tone green to distinguish them from the red apparatus of the Metropolitan Fire Department. Today, the most widely-accepted reason that fire engines are painted red, which dates back to the 1800s — a time when there was a lot of competition between the fire brigades of neighboring cities and towns. The firefighters of each brigade took great pride in their pump. Each brigade wanted their rig stand out by being the cleanest, having the most brass, or being a regal color. Because red was the most expensive color, that’s what color most crews chose to paint the pump. Course this would be the difference between paid and voluntary. Other sources cite the tradition of painting fire engines red going back to the early 1920’s. Henry Ford wanted to make cars as inexpensively as possible and only offered cars in one color: black. With all of these black vehicles on the road, the fire service began painting their vehicles red in an effort to stand out. Today, just as you have many more choices of colors available to you for your vehicle, so do the fire engine manufacturers, and it is not uncommon to see white, yellow, blue, orange, green, or even black fire engines, in addition to red. And while some studies hint that colors such as lime-green may be more visible to the public than traditional red, the vast majority of fire departments continue to use red fire engines — a color instantly recognized by everyone as that of a fire engine. But one question still remains, Is that just what they want us to think. Doing research I was surprised on how many fire trucks are yellow or white. There are so many stories…

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