Voluntary firefighters are a section of humanity that shows a great interest in serving and helping others. Their readiness to get involved in the risky operation of rescuing people and property from fire, displays a high level of dedication on their part to ensure public safety. The volunteer firefighter lights that they display on their vehicles are, in a way, symbolic of their spirit of service. It is a provision that the law allows to help them in reaching the rescue site with minimum difficulty.
The time-honored institution of volunteer firefighters was formed by Benjamin Franklin. The system was in fact formed even before United States of America itself was formed. As different states and rules and laws evolved over the time, the laws controlling volunteer firefighter lights also got modified and codified. Nowadays different states have different laws that decide the use of volunteer firefighter lights.
Volunteer firefighters services are made available in more or less the same way in which other emergency response services are made available, that is, by dialing 911. When a voluntary firefighter is responding to a call, he is often allowed to use volunteer firefighter lights on his vehicle. However, the type of light that can be used by firefighters vary substantially even within the state. The organization might have its own rules regarding it and very often the type of volunteer firefighter lights, used by a firefighter is decided by the type of response that is required and the distance from which he is traveling.
In some states, volunteer firefighter lights, are courtesy lights whereas in other states voluntary firefighters are allowed to use red lights, which allow the user all the privileges of other emergency vehicles. Where volunteer firefighter lights are red lights, the vehicle can flout traffic rules or run red lights as do police vehicles or ambulances. While in some states the law is permanent, in some others the emergency of the situation may influence the privilege.
In places where volunteer firefighter lights have to be courtesy lights, the users get only limited privileges. The color of the light in such instances is mostly blue or green, and may not be accompanied by a siren. The flashing of blue or green volunteer firefighter lights is a request for a right of way. A vehicle using that light has to stop at traffic lights in accordance with general rules and cannot inconvenience other passengers by making arbitrary turns or lane changes. The ability of the vehicle with courtesy lights to move faster would depend fully on the courtesy of the other drivers on the road.
Even where volunteer firefighter lights are courtesy lights, the custom may vary in different places in the way in which the user is allowed to benefit from it. In the state of New Jersey, other drivers are bound to yield to a vehicle with a courtesy light. However, in some states, the fine for breaking the law is more for vehicles with courtesy lights, whether those lights are volunteer firefighter lights or lights on the vehicles of emergency medical technicians.
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