Why Lime-“Yellow Fire Truck” Are More Safe Than Red

Yellow Fire Truck Found

Imagine a yellow fire truck and you will likely see red–the fire engine red. Safety, ergonomics and human factors research paint a completely different picture.

Also, when lime-yellow/white fire trucks were involved in an incident, the risk of injury and towing away damage was lower than that for red or red/white vehicles. Solomon previously conducted a study that found lime-Yellow Fire Trucks were twice as likely to be involved with intersection accidents than red and yellow fire trucks.

These findings were refuted by later studies. The 2009 USFA study found that orange and fluorescent yellow-green can increase vehicle visibility. However, the report concluded that recognition of the vehicle was more important that paint color. If people don’t associate lime with fire trucks, yellow-green vehicles might not be as prominent as they are intended.

When designing conspicuous vehicles, it is important to think beyond colour. Research has also shown that reflective stripes significantly improves vehicle visibility at night.


According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there were 3,870 injuries in 2011, when fire departments responded to or returned from incidents. According to the USFA, motor vehicle accidents accounted for more than 10% of all firefighter deaths in 2012. These accidents can also cause injury or death to civilians.

Practical Application

Some communities have made their fire trucks fluorescent green. Others have reverted to classic fire engine red to make them more easily identifiable. The NFPA published a voluntary national standard in 2009 for fire apparatus, which requires reflective striping at many points on the vehicle. There is still much to be done in order to identify the most prominent features of emergency vehicles. Psychologists will continue to learn about the human perception of emergency vehicles so that communities can optimize their fleets. This will result in fewer deaths and fewer accidents.

Most fire departments have remained loyal to red or adopted a scheme that incorporates it since then.

In an email, Mike Harman, Sidney Deputy Fire Chief, stated that the original red and white Sidney Fire Department emergency apparatus was until 2002 when a new ladder truck was purchased. After that, a committee was formed to specialize the truck in order to change its colour scheme. “All new apparatus became red and black from that point. People often compliment us on the colour of our apparatus.

Others followed the 1960s study which found that red was difficult for the human eye, particularly in low light. A bright yellow colour, fluorescent orange, or white would be better choices.

In 1969, the Victoria Yellow Fire Truck Department adopted the suggestion of the study and changed from red to safety yellow.