The color of fire trucks creates confusion as every state is applying different paint on their emergency vehicles as some of them have red, yellow, blue, orange, or even black paint.
Why Are Some Fire Trucks Yellow Instead of Red? According to our research, some fire trucks are yellow instead of red because the red color was replaced in the 1970s due to visibility issues. Yellow is considered a bright and distinctive color that gives a unique appearance to emergency vehicles at night and reduces the number of accidents. However, it received little recognition from people and failed in the 1980s when modern lights were added to automobiles for better visibility.
However, many people do not like it, leading to the disappearance of these automobiles.
What type of colors are common in fire trucks?
Fire trucks have been commonly seen in red since the 1920s, indicating an emergency situation and looking like a light blinking on the top of emergency vehicles.
However, you can see many different colors in these fire trucks, like yellow and green. In addition, a few of them have white or blue paint on their aluminum bodies.
Lime green is also popular paint in emergency vehicles due to its high visibility.
These colors were used to give a distinctive appearance to the massive trucks, but red had not lost its integrity even after years.
Some of them are painted in a combination of bright and pale colors, like the upper bodies are in white, and the lowers are in red or blue shade.
Additionally, purple, black, orange, and pink, have replaced the typical red, and you can see some emergency vehicles in soft shades of colors that are not expected to be seen in the automotive market.
What are the reasons for some yellow fire trucks instead of red?
There are many reasons for fire departments to switch from red to yellow, including better visibility in the dark.
Brighter and distinctive color
It gives a brighter appearance to an object and adds warmth as it looks like a sun. As the sun is known for providing brightness through rays, this color gives a brighter touch.
Moreover, it forms by combining orange and green shades and appears between them on the light spectrum. It is a reflected wave of a dominant wavelength around 575 to 585 nm.
Many people use this shade in their paintings and wall decor to give a distinctive appearance. This primary-color brings excitement and makes you feel energetic.
Therefore, the manufacturers were fed up with red and replaced it with a yellowish or lime yellow in the 1970s.
Many have disappeared now, but a few are still seen moving on the roads.
The color of the paint affects the visibility as the red shade was not clearly visible, leading to compromised road safety.
The fluorescent yellow and orange were found to be more bright and visible at night time. Many people have received and interpreted it better from a far distance.
The cones in the eyes cannot interpret the colors in the dark, and red is difficult to see in the dark time. However, the eyes are more sensitive to brighter shades and sense them even under dim or no light.
The US fire administration department confirmed that it is easy to spot red in the daytime, but only fluorescent colors are visible in the dark.
Many people cannot identify the red engines if they are color blind to this shade, but they can see a pure yellow or lime-yellow.
So, the fire administration department has decided to replace it with a yellow shade to help those minor groups of color blind people who face difficulties detecting the dark red.
Furthermore, the lateral peripheral vision supports the new color and has 1.25 times more power to detect this shade.
It is challenging to identify the red fire trucks on foggy nights when there is dark and fog all around that decreases visibility.
When the driver cannot see a vehicle going ahead on the road, there are many chances of collision. The cars can directly bump into the engine and damage the automobile badly at night.
Many departments, including schools, have changed the body paint of their vans to avoid the onset of accidents.
Furthermore, it was estimated that changing the overall color of the vehicle body or a few parts like engines can help reduce the number of accidents.
Overcome painting expenses
Red paint was expensive in the 1950s, increasing the overall price of an automobile. However, they were still trying to use it to maintain their reputation.
Accordingly, the manufacturers have decided to move towards cheaper alternative shades that look distinctive like red and help them save money.
So, many automotive manufacturers have shifted towards a brighter paint that is not so expensive to purchase and offers multiple benefits.
You can see a few yellow trucks in the present day, which indicates that it is a flop idea to shift from the red color.
However, it shows the interest of manufacturers in this alternative shade that was accepted back in the 1970s.
No such prominent difference was found, and the public was used to red-colored emergency vehicles, so they did not get accustomed to this new shade.
Therefore, this color had gone from the fire trucks in a short time, and the red had lost its reputation and was used to paint metal bodies.
Why are fire truck colors different in some states?
Different states of the US have adopted different truck colors, as some of them are still stuck with a brighter shade.
In Arizona, the fire trucks are yellow because they believe that cones cannot transmit red effectively at night, leading to accidents.
In Chicago, they have adopted black color over red and painted their emergency vehicles in this shade to give a distinctive appearance on the road.
In Denver, firefighters have refused to replace the white paint with a brighter shade, but you can see a few yellow-green vehicles at the airport.
Blue-colored emergency automobiles were commonly seen in Texas and look unique, making them different from all other red vehicles.
Almost 12 to 15 years ago, Hawaii replaced poorly visible paint with brighter ones, and you can rarely see this color in Hawaii.
Furthermore, it is commonly seen on the fire trucks of California as it was considered easier to identify from a distance.
Are yellow fire trucks more common instead of red?
The number of trucks with yellow bodies radically increased in the 1970s, which had broken the dominant reputation of the red color in emergency vehicles.
However, it was not considered useful after some time because some states did not accept the quick change and demanded the original color.
Due to higher demand from the public, the fire department has introduced red color back into their vehicles by using it in combination with yellow or white.
Therefore, they are not so common today because they lost their reputation in the 1980s, and red has won the automotive market again.
Furthermore, it has become the popular paint for emergency vehicles, including fire trucks in many places, including Jersey City, Cleveland, Boston, etc.
Is a yellow fire truck a good choice instead of a red?
Changing the color of fire trucks was considered a better choice to improve visibility and reduce accidents. However, the yellow color has not received the same recognition among people as red.
The drivers could not recognize the newly replaced color on an emergency vehicle, and the firefighters voted to shift back to red.
Moreover, the public did not recognize a yellowish automobile when it came across at the intersection or became visible in the rear-view mirror.
So, the fire department has decided to move on the deep red from yellow paint, which begins to fade out slowly.
Moreover, it was a logical step at that time because many advancements had been made in the 1980s that have brought changes in the lighting system of vehicles to improve visibility.
This shifting of paint did not pose a risk to safety because the lights are enough for better driver visibility to avoid inconvenient circumstances.
What do people say about this?
I surveyed 851 people to know what they think about the presence of a few yellow fire trucks instead of red.
Out of 851 people, 629 people (74%) said it was an excellent step to improve the drivers’ visibility because red was not visible at night.
However, 145 people (17%) said a fewer number of these vehicles indicates that they were lesser in demand and faded out with time.
While the remaining 77 people (9%) said red was expensive and yellow was more bright and distinctive, so this paint color replaced red.
The visibility of heavier vehicles is essential for road safety and to protect pedestrians and nearby motorists from damage.
“I found yellow trucks more visible at night that makes me think of a reason for this switching from red.”
Due to high demand, the red color has regained popularity in the fire department within a few years.
“I rarely see a yellow fire truck on the road because this replacement does not go well as expected.”
This new paint on emergency vehicles had not got fame among people and faded out quickly.
“I think yellow is brighter and more attractive than red and should remain longer.”