What color lights do you have on your Fire Boat or Police Boat?
Are you in compliance?
One of the most misunderstood topics we come accross is the use of warning lights on Fire, Rescue, and Law Enforcement vessels. First and foremost NFPA Apparatus Guidelines DO NOT APPLY! Very often a department will utilize the same color combination they use on land vehicles. This could lead to illegal displays of lights that could lead to fines or even worse, a collision or other mistake underway. Under Title 33 of the United States Code, Navigation and Navigable Waters, lights are divided into Law Enforcement and Public Safety catagories. These requirements are outlined below. It is important that you display the appropriate signals so that your unit can be recognized for the function it is performing. This is especially true during a large scale incident where both LE and Fire units are operating together and a clear distinction needs to be made. Last, but not least, and just as important, these warning signals DO NOT give you any special privelages like you receive on the street. Do not assume you have the right of way, the collision you cause, may be your own!
TITLE 33--NAVIGATION AND NAVIGABLE WATERS CHAPTER I--COAST GUARD, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
PART 88_ANNEX V: PILOT RULES--Table of Contents
Sec. 88.11 Law enforcement vessels.
(a) Law enforcement vessels may display a flashing blue light when engaged in direct law enforcement or public safety activities. This light must be located so that it does not interfere with the visibility of the vessel's navigation lights.
(b) The blue light described in this section may be displayed by law enforcement vessels of the United States and the States and their political subdivisions.
Sec. 88.12 Public safety activities.
(a) Vessels engaged in government sanctioned public safety activities, and commercial vessels performing similar functions, may display an alternately flashing red and yellow light signal. This identification light signal must be located so that it does not interfere with the visibility of the vessel's navigation lights. The identification light signal may be used only as an identification signal and conveys no special privilege. Vessels using the identification light signal during public safety activities must abide by the Inland Navigation Rules, and must not presume that the light or the exigency gives them precedence or right of way.
(b) Public safety activities include but are not limited to patrolling marine parades, regattas, or special water celebrations; traffic control; salvage; firefighting; medical assistance; assisting disabled vessels; and search and rescue.
CHAPTER 34--INLAND NAVIGATIONAL RULES
SUBCHAPTER I--RULES Part C--Lights and Shapes Sec. 2021. Definitions (Rule 21)
(f) ``Flashing light'' means a light flashing at regular intervals at a frequency of 120 flashes or more per minute.