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  • History of station red lights?

    Does anyone out there know the history of the red station light that hangs on the outside wall next to the app door at most fire stations?

  • #2
    Good question. I have no idea. But we have one too. I would imagine it started out as some sort of alert device, then became more of a tradition.
    Mike

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    • #3
      Our old Headquarters station and the old Police station were both in the same building at one time. Outside of our section of the building were red lights. The entryway to the Police station had blue lights. My guess the red lights were used to signify the firehouse.
      ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
      Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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      • #4
        In the midwest there are red and green lights outside the bay doors of many stations.

        I believe I saw this in Chicago.

        The significance of the red and green lights was just like a ships lights, "port" and "starboard".

        joejoe33

        Comments and opinions are mine and do not represent the agency or IAFF local that I am affiliated with.

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        • #5
          joejoe, I know Chicago puts red and green lights on thier rigs, but I don't know about thier stations.

          Youngstown has red lights by the "front door" to thier stations, right next to the pull-alarm. I also am wondering about the significance. My guess is that they put them next to the pull alarms as a way to show the civilians just were on the house the main door was and where the alarm box was located. Just my thoughts....

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          • #6
            in my town theres a firehouse that has a red light near the side entry door. Its always on no matter what... ALWAYS.... I never really got the chance to ask the guys on that company...cause I always forget when im there.. ill have to stop by tonight and ask them....
            Andrew
            Firefighter/EMT
            New Jersey

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            • #7
              [quote]Originally posted by daysleeper47:
              My guess is that they put them next to the pull alarms as a way to show the civilians just were on the house the main door was and where the alarm box was located.


              I agree with daysleeper. All the red lights I have ever seen have been next to the alarm box.
              Opinions stated are mine only and do not reflect those of my companies.

              FTM-PTB-EGH-RFB-KTF

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              • #8
                The red and green lights are found on Chicago area
                rigs and firehouses.There was a Chief back in the old days who had ties to the shipping industry.It is a good example of how regional quirks keep the fire service interesting
                IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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                • #9
                  Our station red light is above our pull alarm for our house siren.
                  Neptune 33

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                  • #10
                    In Cincinnati, the red lights outside the fire houses were a result of the death of a firefighter, John Bickers, Ladder 9. He was killed on September 10, 1967 while helping direct traffic in front of Engine 23's quarters at Madison and Hackberry. He was struck by a drunk driver and knocked 90 feet. Bickers' death led to the installation of red warning flashers in front of engine houses throughout the city. The firemen had been asking for such devices for some time. We still turn ours on every time we roll out, and still, 34 years later, nobody stops!
                    See You At The Big One

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                    • #11
                      My department has half red and half white lights on each end of the station. I was told a couple of years age it stands for as follows.

                      Red Light = Emergency aid avalible hear.
                      White Light = 24 hours a day.

                      In the days of the old west many towns did not have a doctor and the Barbar would do simple medical task of a doctor and the red and white barbar pole meet maedical aid, 24 hours a day, so that could be where the lights come from.

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                      • #12
                        Our station has a red light that only goes on when the bay doors are open. This is to let pedestrians know a fire apparatus is on the way out.

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                        • #13
                          our station has them, along with every other station in town. I was told it was the universal signal for a fire station. i was told that 10 some odd years ago though
                          Loo
                          Lieutenant / EMT- Paramedic
                          Protective Services Officer

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                          • #14
                            My understanding is similar to that of the other posters on here.

                            I believe that the lights are made to communicate the purpose of the building to those passing by.

                            I'll explain....If you think as one walks or drives down the road a person will really just see the lights and an outline of the building. Virtually every building has white lights on it.

                            Well now just as years ago to distinguish a building from those around it one would place a different color to attract attention. Just like strip joints have Red or bright collored neons to attract your attention so does the red on the firehouse. Someone in need of help would notice that a building in a row of simmilar buildings has red lights. Thus identifying a firehouse to the public who might need to find it.

                            Thats all conjecutre though..I have looked for the answer for some time and have not found any other plausible explaination.

                            Two cents from a fireman.

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                            • #15
                              Thanks for the help folks. I'm on the maintenance division (D-Div)here in SD. We rotate as a crew in our Batt of 8 stations. After the Dept getting screwed for years by the city for maint ie plumbing, minor carpentry, electrical and the such. The City would charge our budget for the work done by City shops and it would take 6 months for them to show up to actually fix something, so the stations were crap and we were getting taken to the cleaners in the budget. We came to an agreement with the City and the Trade Unions (We are Union Brothers) that we would perform certain trade work on our own stations to save budget money and increase the quality of life in the stations. They made 7 D-Div to cover each Batt. 4 men each crew and we all have trade backgrounds. We work a 56 hour work week (24hr shifts) and run A-B-C divisions. In that schedule the city forces crews to take a 24 hour holiday to keep built in overtime down. We rotate into the station on that crews holiday. When we aren't on responses or drills we perform maint. They pay us an extra 5% and give us a 650.00 tool allowance a year to spend on personal tools. And we have accounts at Home Depot and such for materials........So the reason I was asking about the red lights is because I am etching the company's number in to the glass on the lamps outside the station and was wondering why they were red. Thanks again for the responses and keep in your hearts this holiday season the families of our FDNY Brothers who have lost their husbands and fathers. May they want for nothing other than the return of their loved one. Place a special ornament on your tree that reminds your holiday visitors and family this year and following years of the men that will not be home ever again. They live in our hearts.

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