Thursday, April 20, 2017

Alternative Origins: Fire Trucks

One of those oddities that occur from time to time, that's what it is. One of those things for which the original reason is lost in the mists of time. One of those things that just makes you sit and scratch your noggin for answers whence none have so far been dispatched. What am I talking about? Fire trucks. Why oh why oh why are fire engines red? 

When I tell you the answer you'll slap your palm onto your forehead and say "duh!" probably.

Firstly, though, let me tell you what answer you'll get if you ask a fireman:

"Well, they're not all red. Some are lime yellow because it shows up better at night."

Sassy answer if ever there was. Especially considering limes are green. Some are green anyway, but it's more of a Hunter Green.

 Still, doesn't explain why the red ones are red, does it?

There are many theories.

  • Red can be seen from a long way away.
  • In the early days, red was the cheapest paint available (not sure I believe that actually, but another version of the story says it was chosen because it was more expensive and therefore more important)
  • Back when all cars on the road were black, red stood out more (yes, but they've been red since before there were cars)
  • It's been red so long it's a tradition.
  • Oh, and the old joke answer -- They have eight wheels and four men. 8 + 4 = 12. 12 inches make a ruler.One of the greatest rulers was Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled over the Seven Seas. In the seas are fish. Fish have fins, the Finns fought the Russians and the Russian flag is (was) red. Ha ha ha.
  • Etc., etc.

I have my own personal theory (and don't worry, I'm not going to somehow try and prove that we somehow had a hand in the decision - I mean, that would be redonkulous!). No, my theory is very simple.

Red has always meant danger. In primitive cave paintings, enormous bison-like critters are shaded red.

 Red is used to represent hell and the Devil. 

Red tells you to stop at a stop sign or a traffic light.

 Red says, the idiot in front of you is jamming on his brakes, so stop now.

 Red also means fiery, hot, heat.

 So a fire engine needs to be red to draw people's attention to the fact that there's a fire somewhere and they're going to try putting it out. Nothing more complex than that. Straightforward. No messing. Simple, really.

Except, I just got an email from the Volunteer Fire Dept. of Bicep, IN with an accompanying photo of them proudly displaying trucks!?! 

The email reads "Explain this away! Ya can't, can ya?"

Ah, forget it.

No comments:

Post a Comment