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April 21, 2005

USFA Initiates Second Phase of Study of Emergency Vehicle Warning Lighting Systems with Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, announced today the United States Fire Administration (USFA), has started a follow-on study of Emergency Warning Lighting Systems with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) that will continue the work of the original research project initiated in 2003.  This second phase of the project will continue to research how to effectively mitigate the disorientation of motorists caused by the day and nighttime use of emergency warning lights, through design, technology, and operating practices.

"An unacceptable number of firefighters and other emergency responders have died in the line of duty from vehicle crashes and being struck by vehicles while they are operating at emergencies," said  Brown.  "This partnership underscores the commitment of President Bush and Secretary Chertoff to protect this nation’s emergency responders."

The second phase of this effort will include issues of lighting color and emergency vehicle visibility.  This issue of color will include the red and white color lighting traditionally used by the fire service and EMS, but will also include the use of other colors such as yellow typically used for construction and tow vehicle warning, as well as blue and other colors.  The issue of lighting and vehicle visibility will also be studied to include how warning lights work with retro-reflective striping, chevrons, high-visibility paint colors, and so on.

"I am pleased the USFA is continuing its work with the SAE to study impacts of emergency lighting on the safety of firefighters responding to or returning from emergencies, as well as those men and women operating on the nation’s roadways," said R. David Paulison, U.S. Fire Administrator. “This partnership effort also supports the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Firefighter Life Safety Initiative to further prevent on-duty firefighter fatalities."

All emergency lighting systems will be examined in this study - including incandescent, halogen, strobe, and light-emitting diode (LED) systems.  Research findings from this project will be shared with national-level consensus standards organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and others in the development of relevant/related standards. The SAE and their Emergency Warning Lighting and Devices Standards Committee may use the findings in the development of their own standards.
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"SAE is proud to continue this important research in support of the safety of firefighters and other emergency responders," said SAE President J.E. “Ted” Robertson. "This project emphasizes SAE’s long-term commitment to enhancing vehicle and roadway safety through local, national, and international research and awareness programs."

Further information about this research initiative as well as other USFA emergency vehicle project efforts may be found on the USFA Web site at: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/research/safety/vehicle.shtm.  To learn more about the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives, go to www.fireheroes.org.