Reflective trim adds dash of safety to apparatus

Reflective trim adds dash of safety to apparatus

The addition of reflective trimming and numbering on the Bay City, Mich., Fire Department’s apparatus is proving a cost-efficient means of making the trucks more visible, particularly at night, providing an extra degree of safety.

Red Scotchlite strips were added to the department’s lime-yellow vehicles, giving a better color contrast.

The 12-inch reflective numbers, which were placed on the sides of the trucks, and the 24inch numbers on the roofs of the cabs, have improved fireground communications, since the trucks are now easier to identify.

The reflective trim is estimated to cost at least 50 percent less than gold leaf, which, while decorative, does not contribute to apparatus safety. Says Bay City Fire Chief jerry Marchlewicz, “My first concern is safety. Scotchliting provides not only high nighttime visibility, but enhances the overall appearance of the apparatus as well.”

This added safety feature has been applied to the department’s four engines, two 100-foot aerials, a rescue truck, hazardous materials vehicle, the chief’s car and a service truck. The department, made up of 73 fulltime fire fighters, is responsible for an 11.4-square-mile area and 41,500 people.

One of the first fire departments in the state to use reflective trim was the Grand Rapids Fire Department. In the early 1970s, Chief Robert Veit eliminated all the gold leaf from the department’s apparatus and replaced it with gold reflective stripping and numbers to contrast the trucks’ red color.


Providing both a dynamic daytime color contrast and a high nighttime visibility, reflective trimming enhances apparatus safety and fireground communications.

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