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Author Topic: signal lights for ares member's cars  (Read 28708 times)
WA9SVD
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Posts: 2198




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« on: July 06, 2004, 07:29:40 PM »

"Remember, legally, in time of federal emergency RACES is activated and all civilian radio operations, including
                  ARES, are supposed to be shut down."
    (Quote KC2MMI)
==================================================

    I'm not quite sure about that.  the rules DO specify that (legitimate, NOT practice or drill) RACES communications take priority; they also say that in the event of the President invoking the War Emergency Powers, RACES stations may only communicate on specific frequencies (ยง97.407(b))only with other RACES or Civil Defense registered stations.

    During other emergencies, the FCC may specify certain frequencies to be used for Emergency Communications only, and not for general use, but a total prohibition of operation doesn't seem to be mandated, unless the FCC issues an order to that effect.
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KB3KOH
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Posts: 13




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« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2004, 04:56:29 PM »

I have a questin for all and would like your opinion i'm an ARES member in southwest pa. I was recently at a ham fest and one thing a guy had at his booth was a set of blue lights for you car. Now here is my questin when ARES or RACES is activated we need to get to the scean as quick a possable to get setup should ARES and or RACES have some kind of signal light on there car and if so what color.Just an idea let me know what you think.

Tom KB3KOH
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N3ZKP
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Posts: 2008




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« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2004, 05:26:55 PM »

<< when ARES or RACES is activated we need to get to the scean as quick a possable to get setup should ARES and or RACES have some kind of signal light on there car and if so what color.Just an idea let me know what you think. >>

NO! NO! NO!

We are communicators, not life and death first responders. In almost 40 years of professional disaster response I have never seen a single instance where any kind of warning lights were necessary for anyone not directly involved in life-saving activities - certainly not hams.

Besides, in most states, anything besides a flashing or rotating amber (or yellow) light requires a permit from some local law enforcement agency.

Lon

PS - it's scene, not scean. Smiley
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OBSERVER11
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Posts: 657




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« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2004, 09:25:54 PM »

ARES, RACES, Red Cross, Salvation Army, are NOT "first responders", as a result, WE do not have lights and sirens. Some guys have AMBER lights as a "warning light" once you are parked, or to make the vehicle if used for damage assessment or other OFFICIAL functions.

HAMS ARE NOT FIRST RESPONDERS unless you are PAID by an agency (police, fire, EMT, HazMat, SAR etc)

REACT members like to put lights on cars - at least, the REACT members in my area all have lights.

In Ohio, to have RED or BLUE lights, you must be a COMMISSIONED law enforcement officer (blue) or a fireman (red), and some MALL security have GREEN.

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KB3KOH
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Posts: 13




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« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2004, 09:48:49 PM »

I didn't think we could but i thought i would pose the questin. It would look kind of dume yellow light in the car.  anyway thanks.


Tom KB3KOH
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KC2MMI
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Posts: 808




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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2004, 12:25:20 AM »

Tom, you need to check your state motor vehicle laws. In many states that's about a thousand pages but the good news is that there's usually an index in the back, the page size is small, and at least here they are required to sell it to you for about a buck at any motor vehicle office.<G>

Your legal status under ARES and RACES will vary. Ask your district manager, coordinator, supervisor, whatever what has been done in your venue, because using the wrong kind of lights can be a serious issue.
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KB1LKR
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Posts: 1897




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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2004, 01:01:10 PM »

In MA I believe blue is prohibited except for state/local police vehicles (and fire dept vehicles/ambulances -- which while primarily equipped w/ red, some have a red and a blue on the rear). Otherwise their use is considered inpersonination of a police officer.

Elsewhere Red seems to be used w/ or in place of blue by municipal/state law inforcement agencies -- actually MA police dept's often has red and amber paired w/ the blue now -- tough to miss or mistake.

Yellow/amber or white (unfiltered) strobes (other than strobes integrated with rear tail/brake light assy's) is the usual practice for DPW/maintance, tow/ramp trucks, snow plows, loaders/skidsteers/backhoes, etc. w/ road registration plates,  electric/gas/phone/utility trucks, stationary saw horses/barrels/barrracades etc. w/ flashing markers.

Mag mount cigarette lighter powered (and fixed mounting) strobes w/ amber fresnel lenses can be had at relatively low cost for stationary service or (for example) moble services such as snow plowing of driveways/parking lots/etc.

Also be sure to bring your FCC amateur license and ARES, RACES, or othre applicable ID's and perhaps get an amateur radio operator plate for your vehicle(s) if your state issues them.


 
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KD5JFT
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Posts: 82




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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2004, 03:23:42 PM »

DO NOT put red/blue lights on your vehicle without checking on the local state and municipal laws.  Here in Oklahoma, red/blue lights that can be seen from the front of your vehicle will lose you your vehicle.  If you go into situations where you feel you need warning lights go with yellow.  I normally only write warnings to people that have the red/blue lights on their cars.  Several local auto custom shops have been selling blue lights to replace parking lights and blue or red LEDs for on the hood.  I stop every one of those I see and give warnings (mostly).  Several nearby cities and the state police WILL IMPOUND your vehicle for this violation.  Again, if you feel the need for warning lights go with yellow.  It is internationally recognized as a warning light.  Check you local laws before even thinking about turning it on while moving though.

KD5JFT
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KC8VWM
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Posts: 3188




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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2004, 04:38:00 PM »


No one seemed to mention the fact that besides it being legal or illegal in many states, it is  generally "frowned on" by many law enforcement officials regardless of the legality involved.

I tend to shy away from the high profile blue light & badge brigade scenerio. I rather prefer the low profile "black helicopter look" for my vehicle instead.

my 2.5 cents
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KE6PKJ
Member

Posts: 256




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« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2004, 06:58:40 PM »

You know, if y'all didn't have ham call signs I'd swear this was a cb forum. What's the REAL reason for wanting police lights?
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K2GW
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Posts: 535


WWW

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« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2004, 08:02:30 PM »

>>No one seemed to mention the fact that besides it being legal or illegal in many states, it is generally "frowned on" by many law enforcement officials regardless of the legality involved.

>>I tend to shy away from the high profile blue light & badge brigade scenerio. I rather prefer the low profile "black helicopter look" for my vehicle instead.

I totally agree.  Dressing neatly in collared shirt (no grungy t-shirts) with an appropriate ARES/RACES, OEM or Red Cross ID card around your neck and one (only one) HT on your belt will get you a lot more respect and access than a pseudo-uniform, flashing lights or those imitation amateur radio shield badges I've seen.

The image you want to project is professional communications expert, not  "cop wannabe".  Most law enforcement personnel are extremely wary of folks who want to dress or equip their cars like the police.

One of the great ironies is that most real uniformed cops would love to be promoted to detective so they can drive an unmarked car and wear civilain clothes on the job just like us!  So the simple neat business casual clothes with an ID card actually subconsciously says "leader" in most emergency situations!

73

Gary Wilson, K2GW
SNJ SEC
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N3ZKP
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Posts: 2008




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« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2004, 08:23:48 PM »

Tagging onto Observer11's comments, there are certain cases when Red Cross and Salvation Army vehicles are legally equipped with appropriate emergency-type lighting.

However, I have 17 emergency response vehicles under my supervision and only five have emergency lighting and four of those are amber. The one red-lighted unit is attached to a local fire department and responds with that department when needed.

Even with those other four, they seldom run TO a scene with lights on. They do run with them on when actually moving WITHIN a disaster area, however.

As I stated earlier, in almost 40 years, I can't think of a single case where any of my agency's vehicles actually _needed_ emergency lighting. The very large logos on the four sides more than identified them to the proper officials.

As for ARES and RACES members, there is no need whatsoever for high speed and flashing lights to get to a disaster site. They are NOT, as has already been stated, first responders.

I will add that there are instances when Red Cross and Salvation Army units are in the first responder class by virtue of being first, or almost first, on the scene. Case in point, my agency had four units on the scene at the first WTC tower within 20 minutes and were in operation before the second tower was hit!

Lon

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KC2MMI
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Posts: 808




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« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2004, 08:31:11 PM »

Again, it will all boil down to state laws and whether someone wants to butt heads with the local police.

In NY, ham radio license plates are (oddly enough!) issued as emergency services plates, categorized on our DMV web site right along with EMT's and paramedics. By that standard, a ham operator during an active emergency response would be a legal emergency vehicle. And our VTL (s.101) further defines any "civil defense" vehicle to be an authorized emergency vehicle, although I would expect most cops (city or state) to arrest you first rather than read their VTL.

"Civil defense" would apply to any RACES member who had been called up, since by definition RACES only respond after a legal state of emergency has been declared. The situation with ARES would vary. If you were responding to a directed call from an OEM or other "civil defense" authority, you'd be entitled to use a red light. The odds of that happening, and the odds of PD en route believing your story, are something else entirely. In a situation like that you'd probably be better off having the authority contact the local PD and arrange for an escort.

Remember, legally, in time of federal emergency RACES is activated and all civilian radio operations, including ARES, are supposed to be shut down. If your local PD, sheriff, etc., knows and trusts you...that's another story. Might as well ask him for a PBA shield for your bumper at the same time.

Of course these days, if there was a major emergency, we could expect road closings (as after 9/11 when major highways and bridges closed) and National Guard roadblocks. And NG troops simply don't have the training, or the time to argue the point. Without the escort, the red light will only get you arrested.
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KC2MMI
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Posts: 808




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« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2004, 08:42:02 PM »

Lon?
 <there are certain cases when Red Cross and Salvation Army vehicles are legally equipped with appropriate emergency-type lighting.>

 I've wondered about that. I find it hard to believe that the immediate presence of an RC or SA vehicle is ever an integral part of saving lives or property.

 Comforting people, yes. Sheltering them, yes. Don't mistake e for knocking them, I think the canteen trucks serve a real purpose and exhausted first responders and dazed victims certainly benefit from them.

 And since these trucks "support" the first responders, they could technically be "engaged" in emergency operations and qualify for red lights in this state. But their operations are not *directly* involved, they are ancilliary and the crux of it is, if they got to the operation ten minutes later or two blocks further away...No lives would be lost.

 I can only think the red lights on these vehicles are a courtesy extended--wrongly and illegally--by the local PD and FD. I'm not knocking any of these folks--just saying what they are doing is not quite proper, even with the best of reasons. There's no need for it. Delivering comfort is not saving a life.

 I was taught to get out of the way of red lights, and if that means driving through a fence and into someone's lawn, or pulling up onto a sidewalk, I was told to do it. The state pd troop that taught us had a very simple policy about red light misuse: First time, ten days unpaid vacation. Second time, 30 days unpaid vacation. No such thing as a third offense, that would be called "termination with cause".

 Needless to say, they had nothing but disdain for the local PD's that weren't quite as serious about the job.
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N3ZKP
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Posts: 2008




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« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2004, 11:49:24 AM »

<< I've wondered about that. I find it hard to believe that the immediate presence of an RC or SA vehicle is ever an integral part of saving lives or property. >>

I didn't say they were. I said there were cases where certain vehicles were legally equipped.

There are specific cases where Salvation Army units ARE declared emergency vehicles and do operate legally with emergency lighting. In virtually every such case, the vehicle involved is attached to a fire department and routinly is dispatched to second-alarm and larger fires. I can give you instances of several cities that this is the case in.

Other than some specific exceptions, Salvation Army disaster vehicles are not routinely emergency-light equipped. It just isn't necessary.

Lon
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