Apparatus Chevroning? Non Effective Reaction or About Damn Time

While enjoying the discussion on Personal Escape Systems.  Bill Carey from BackstepFirefighter really got me to thinking. Why are we always so reactionary to problems and want to fix them with gadgets when the problem does boil down to training. Don’t take me wrong I wrote the post and strongly believe personal escape systems should be included of some form with the next NFPA 1971. With that said I noticed another standard was created based on fatalities while firefighters are working in the roadway. Chevron’s are now apart of NFPA 1901 and I want to know if you all feel it is effective or just another costly knee jerk reaction?Are firefighters getting hurt because we are not seen or because we are not properly placing apparatus? Has this really solved our problem or just become another merchandising frenzy. Make sure you go to backstepfirefighter to read Bills post. Very insightful


  • Jack White says:

    It is a gimmick just like when having lime yellow trucks was going to solve the problem. Proper blocking with apparatus when working in the roadway may not eliminate the problem, but it will work better in the long run.

  • Nate Q. says:

    While I do think the chevrons increase visibility, and have value in the standard, I have said for a long time that they are just another reactionary blanket solution to a dynamic problem. The problem with this, is where does it end. Not only do we have a big apparatus with flashing lights blocking the road, we also have cones with lights, flares, cute safety vests, and now chevrons…all mandated.

    At first glance, it appears “we are doing all we can” to keep our people safe. Are we really, though? What about stricter enforcement of “move over laws”, driver education, and public education campaigns? If our personnel are doing everything right on their end, why not help educate the driving public to do everything right on their end?

    It all boils down to this…if the idiot semi driver who buzzed us on I-95 last night fails to slow down or pay attention, in spite of all the lights, cones, chevrons, vests, what is another apparatus decoration going to do to prevent that from occurring again?

    Don’t get me wrong, being in an interstate district, our crew religously employs appropriate safety measures. I just think our efforts need to be focused elsewhere.

  • Engine Captain Missouri says:

    I too feel we are way to reactionary to many things, do the Chevons help, yes, do the vests help, of course, but the drunck or the clown on a cell phone isn’t going to see us period! Proper blocking and common sense measures on the scene reduce the chances of a bad event happening, just my 2 cents.

  • anchorpoint1 says:

    I’d like to start my rant with a story; When I was a kid my neighbor got into an accident. He pulled onto a highway and got hit by a car, ejected from the vehicle and sustained minor injuries. The car continued to spin and got destroyed by a Semi coming from the other direction. He would have been killed if he was belted in. The Moral of the story according to my father “Seat belts kill” and he hasn’t worn one since. Now I’m not saying the reflective tape is the same type of thing but I think the mentality is.
    Reflective tape is not going to stop a drunk from hitting you. Proper placement will minimize risk. I don’t care how much it costs, it’s the cost of doing business. If my department had to choose we would still be standing on the back step so they would not have to pay for a cab for the whole crew. When you look at some of the info on this stuff it sounds wonderful.
    This stuff is recognizable at over 1600′, wow. Another part of this is what they call “Cognitive Identification” which means that the minute someone sees this stuff their mind says “That’s a Fire Truck”, at 1600′
    You know what, you’re right it’s a scam, throw it on the main floor with the air bags, seat belts, Roll cages, Closed cabs, Bunker gear, Helmet, steel toes they are all superfluous crap that we’ll never need and we only have because someone found away to con the NFPA. Or just join the NFPA and then you can vote and comment on these changes…BEFORE the become code.

  • FIREhat says:

    I’m circumspect about the chevrons. If you’re properly blocking a scene then they should not be visible at anything but an oblique angle. Unless we chevron the whole truck then we won’t get the full effect and, as someone above noted, a major part of visibility is being able to quickly cue brains to the fact that “that is a fire engine.” Chevrons don’t accomplish that.

  • Nate Q. says:

    Depending upon the type of reflective material your chevrons are made of, they’re actually pretty visible regardless of a slight angle. That’s why I don’t mind them being part of a standard, and the increased visible distance is also why I where that cute little vest the chief gave me (that and the fashion statement I make…). My thoughts are simply that if we have taken care of our end with training and standards, we need to start focusing on educating the general public. Keep up the good discussion!

  • anchorpoint1 says:

    Here is a link to more information on the Chevroning. Print out the 45 pages and put them in the bathroom for future use. Or just read the pictures.

    A couple of things of note
    1. “The idea of mandating the striping met virtually no opposition. However, there was considerable opposition to specifying
    the exact colors and size of the striping.” (pg 40) This means that if it was “knee jerk” than everyone’s knees jerked at the same time.
    2. “ A graphic design shall be permitted to replace all or part of the required striping material” (Pg 42) What? Does that mean we can just put an action graphic there and call it good?
    OK, I gotta stop now. Be Safe.

  • Engine Captain Missouri says:

    As I found out a few shifts ago, a Chief can sign off off on not having the Chevons. A demo truck came in and I overheard this tidbit.

  • HallwaySledge says:

    Funny thing about those chevrons, if your apparatus is parked at the correct angle for blocking they are probably not going to be visible anyway. I do have to say one thing though, since we began setting up the cones on scenes I have seen people do some pretty amazing driving to avoid hitting those things! Big red (hopefully) fire Engine with lots of flashy lights, amber directional stick and lots of guys in already reflective trimmed gear walking around in the roadway, hit ’em! 2 foot tall orange plastic cone with some white stripes, drive like a stunt-man to avoid it. Incredible.

    I personally feel the same way as many others have already echoed. If they can’t see everything I just mentioned the chevrons probably aren’t going to help either. And the drunks? Well, we all know that the only thing that will stop them is the alert copper, the lone tree on an otherwise vacant stretch of road or the innocent motorist heading in the opposite direction. Not much chance for us with them unless the scene is blocked correctly.

    We all know what NFPA REALLY stands for (if you don’t, ask. Someone on here will be glad to tell you I’m sure). Most of what comes out of the NFPA committees, or any committee for that matter, is reactionary to some event or string of events that has occurred. This particular one is just something to say, “See! We’re doing something!” Chevrons will not stop a car, cones will not stop a car, vests will not stop a car (but they will break away if the side mirror, bumper, antenna or snow plow mounted on the front of the F-350 Super Duty that just sped by me at 70 mph, happens to catch it! Yay!). Knowing our jobs, acting safely, watching out for each other while operating and positioning apparatus in a way to make the scene our own little “Green Zone” is the only thing that will protect us.

  • Grant Mishoe says:

    This is an issue that has been long in coming to the United States. These striping systems have been common practice in the United Kingdom for many years as well as most of the rest of the world. For the most parts most other countries already do this with some slight color and equipment modifications. You can look at a rig from the United Kingdom, another from France, and yet another one from Portugal. With the exception of the vocabulary on the side they all look uniform, striping and all.

    But what are we talking about, some reflective tape and lightening on an apparatus? I wish the NFPA 1901 Emissions Control issue would be talked about more than this. Most arguments are that it is the “industry” making us change, or “the color combinations do not match our rig”.

    Well let us look at “industry”. I would think that they would want less safety features so as to sell more trucks when they were wrecked. At least that is the rationality of some while using these arguments against the unscrupulous industry. We know that this is irrational thinking just as blaming the “industry” for these changes.

    Now let us look at aesthetics. The “color” does not match or they are ugly or God Forbid… No ONE, but No ONE is going to tell what I can do to my rigs! This is just as irrational as the “industry” argument. If someone complains that safety features clash with the way their rig looks… find another job. Your head is definitely not in this game.

    The United States is steeped in Fire Service tradition. I am one of the first ones to step up when it comes to celebrating our history. We have a very strong sense of pride when it comes to our “Brotherhood”.

    However, when it comes to issues like this we need to look at the big picture. The Fire Service as a whole is reactionary. Someone needs to be killed or injured for it to change. If you are proactive you are considered too safety conscious.

    If my crew goes home safe because of new rules and regulations then I am all for it. Granted striping on apparatus by itself is NOT a CURE ALL! This has to be used in conjunction with proper apparatus placement, lightening, and mutual aid with ambulances and police officers. All these together as well as other things I am probably missing work as a system or as I like to say, “another tool in the box for us to use!”

    Let’s look at some other reactive “knee jerking” in the past that has changed the fire service as a whole.

    1. Closed-in Cabs – First, obviously, were safety issues. During episodes of race rioting of the late 60’s these closed cabs protected Firefighters from objects being thrown from the roofs of buildings in major metropolitan areas. Then there is the weather issue, as well as maintenance costs from equipment in the cab being open to the elements.
    2. Large Diameter Supply Line – Speaks for itself
    3. Curbside Pump Panels – Moving the pump panels to the drivers side or to a top mount
    4. Roof Construction – Three words for this Hackensack, New Jersey
    5. Adjustable Gallonage Knozzles – This goes along with larger attack lines on crosslays.
    6. SCBAs – Speaks for itself
    7. PASS Devices – See Above
    8. Bunker Gear – See Above

    I could go on but why. Ask yourself this…

    Do you go in “cold storage” warehouses anymore? Newer fighters say no, while waving their W6 stickered helmets to the brothers in Worcester, MA. Not realizing that in 1898 another Cold Storage fire in Chicago took 12 of Chicago’s Bravest after fire trapped them forcing many to jump to their deaths.

    Do you go in flat roof building without proper equipment, pre-planning, TICs, and proper accountability or communications? We say hell no as we look at the memorial flags flying over that desolate spot of horror called the Sofa Super Store Fire. Let’s not mention the fact that we have been killed for hundreds of years due to shoddy construction and collapsing buildings. If there is one thing that sticks in my mind the most on this subject it is Hackensack, NJ.

    My point is we learned from past incidents not to do these things above and even when we do the right thing… sometimes things just go bad.

    We will be doomed to repeat history if we do not change our mindset on everyday actions in the fire service.

    Stay Safe!
    Grant Mishoe, Editor-in-Chief

  • Grant Mishoe says:

    Also… yes you can sign off on anything on a rig that is non-NFPA compliant. However you ride the lightning when something happens. The apparatus dealer is covering there own assets.

  • Vincent says:

    I read with great interest the various comments. Unfortunately, history has shown that we cannot always be proactive; that requires that our foresight be 20-20 at all times. Even being reactive, we still cannot achieve the 20-20 vision we yearn for; human factors will see to that.

    Pub-ed works but it will not TOTALLY eliminate any problem. Case in point, we still see candle started fire. If it can be done, it will be done, no matter how much legislation you throw against it, or pub-ed it to death. Yes, chevroning has its pros and cons. The public sees our pretty fire apparatus in parades, they know how they look like. If that includes the chevron on the trucks, they see that too. And, they know what the pretty truck on the highway means. However, you cannot stop them from stretching their necks. It just takes that one to get you. The point is we do everything we can to make sure that every single one of us goes home. It will take apparatus placement; it will take that extra cone; it will take that extra manpower to direct traffic; it will take chevroning; it will take those highly visible vests; or it may take a loud whistle. We do whatever it takes to be safe and to avoid getting dead on the scene.

    Take care and be safe out there

  • anchorpoint1 says:

    Well said Grant.

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