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What is the best color for a fire truck? Red or Green

Posted by Michael H. Smith, on June 8, 2021

A red fire truck might not be the most visible, but it might be the most recognizable.

Research abounds on the subject of the safest, most visible color to paint fire trucks. Based on ‘visual’ science, ‘red’ is not the most visible color. That distinction goes to bright lime green or orange

When the early research on this topic surfaced, some fire departments begin to transition to lime green as it was determined to be seen more readily in most light conditions. 

In 1995 research was published, based on four years of data, showing red/white fire trucks were three times greater than trucks to be involved in an emergency response traffic accident.

The United States Fire Administration in 2009 confirmed that bright fluorescent yellow/green and orange colors might increase visibility. However, color visibility alone is not always the most critical factor to consider when keeping firefighters and the public safe from collisions. 

Vehicle recognition, not color, is the more critical factor to consider. 

If the community residents are used to seeing ‘red’ fire trucks, then they might not recognize a ‘lime green’ truck when it is coming across an intersection or approaching in their rear-view mirror.

Further research has determined that other factors besides color can also influence the recognition of a fire truck. That is why in 2009, the United States Fire Administration set guidelines for including retroreflecting tape and decals on specific areas of any fire apparatus.

Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus is honored to have worked with thousands of fire departments in our 20 years of business operations. Our paint and lettering team continues to work daily with fire departments to design color schemes that are both beautiful and recognizable. 

If you have questions about paint colors, lettering or retroreflective markings, let us know we are glad to help.

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