Chevron on Apparatus – Making the Grade

This apparatus has the correct coverage, size, and chevron design. However it is the wrong color. Photo by Mike Sanders from

This apparatus has the correct coverage, size, and chevron design. However it is the WRONG color scheme. Photo by Mike Sanders from

Over the past several years, more and more apparatus are being delivered with the chevron on the back of apparatus. The chevron is the inverted V pattern. This is a good thing. Along with the hi-visibility vests and the move over laws, we are able to operate safer on roadways. This is not just a highway thing though. My department lost 2 firefighters on a street with a posted speed limit of 35 mph in 1985.

NFPA 1901:

As of January 1, 2009 the NFPA 1901 document requires all new fire apparatus to have at least 50% of the rear of the truck covered with 6” red/yellow alternating stripes in a chevron (inverted V) pattern. This initiative is to increase visibility, providing additional on-scene safety.

There are two key ingredients to following this regulation…

  1. 50% of coverage on the rear of the apparatus
  2. RED/YELLOW 6″ stripes in a chevron pattern

Departments that do not spec new apparatus with hi-vis dressing on the rear of the apparatus are failing. They are failing firefighters and they are failing the motorists. We have to be visible when operating on scene.

No Chevron on the back of this brand new truck. Photo courtesy of (submitted: Captain Aaron Vance)

No Chevron on the back of this brand new truck. Captain Aaron Vance photo on

Unfortunately, existing apparatus is exempt from NFPA 1901. However, it should be a priority to design and implement a retrofit of existing apparatus.

Jeff Harkey of recently wrote on the subject on his editors blog. View the post here. Sadly, we can see right on that not all apparatus are being designed with the new 1901 regulations. has a website full of great information for apparatus safety. They have some great examples of how departments are making their apparatus more visible here.

The image to the right shows us that new apparatus is still being delivered minus the chevron. This apparatus might have been spec’d prior to NFPA 1901 being updated. NO excuse for not incorporating the new regulations though.

You can thumb through new deliveries on and to see who is and who is not following the rules.

This should be one of those regulations that everyone wants to get on board with. Spec out your new apparatus with it and retrofit your existing apparatus. offers a video on retrofitting apparatus you can view here.

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Created as a Committee of the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association, the Institute serves as an informal advisory panel of public safety leaders committed to reducing deaths and injuries to America’s Emergency Responders. Members of the Institute, all highly influential and expert in their fields, are personally dedicated to the safety of the men and women who respond to emergencies on or along our nation’s streets, roads and highways. Members of the Institute include trainers, writers, managers, government officials, technical experts and leaders who through their individual efforts and collective influence in the public safety world can bring meaningful change.