Paint Us Resistive Red

By Ray McCormack

There are many expressions people use when it comes to painting, such as painting oneself into a corner and being painted with a broad brush. These two expressions form the base of a the clever strategy used by change painters on firefighters.

Red is the traditional color of fire trucks. You can argue and state examples of exceptions and, when you do, consider why the exceptions exist. They exist because a group of change painters felt that red fire trucks weren’t progressive enough, they don’t work anymore, etc. If you resist such enlightenment, the change painters may paint you with the broad brush of “traditionalist.”

Many change painters’ disdain for “traditionalist thinking” is only exceeded by their disdain for the term “aggressive attack.” Their canned dismissal says traditional thinking in the fire service is dated and stands in the way of progress. Does it stand in the way or just temper it for a balanced and reasonable reshape?

Many of these change painters are very determined, adding coat after coat of paint in the hopes of better and more widespread coverage. Sometimes, they tint the paint with junk science to get the color they want, attempting to paint opponents into a corner. You can’t fight science, right?

The fire service has many expressionist painters who specialize in depicting the fire service as dark, bleak, and fearful. Some are minimalists, showing few details, and some are futurists, painting a new world order where firefighting is barely recognizable.

Another group is Painters without Pedigree, who use the paint-by-numbers method, filling in the canvas as directed by others. Individual expression could dilute the message, and they can’t have that. Painting by numbers may increases the amount of finished canvases, but does little to inspire art or free-thinking firefighters.

A tactical safety painting starts with a blank canvas and depicts a fire service with ideas that inspire and colors that signify bold individuality. Sometimes resistive red is the primary color we use to shape our future. Developing an eye for fire service painting will serve you well when it comes to appraising ideas and true works of art.

You may embark on your own masterpiece at any time!

Next Tactical Safety – Marginal Effort = Marginal Results


Ray McCormackRAY McCORMACK is a lieutenant and 28-year veteran of the Fire Department of New York. He is the editor and publisher of Urban Firefighter Magazine. He delivered the keynote at FDIC in 2009, is lead instructor for Urban Essentials HOT, and the author of the “Tactical Safety” weekly safety column.

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