Blue Light Cars in the Fire and Rescue Service

We often receive enquiries from concerned members of the public who have seen a variety of “normal vehicles” travelling around their towns and motorways using blue lights and sirens. The questions we get asked are usually the same, are these people using them legally and why do they need them.

Is it legal?

Yes, it is all above board. The officers are highly trained and have to pass a series of tests prior to being able to drive under blue light conditions. Many of the officers will have also driven fire engines during their career and so will be very experienced at responding on blue lights. Drivers of blue light vehicles have the same conditions applied to them as fire appliances do in terms of certain exemptions.

Why are they responding on blue lights?

Certain senior officers, within all fire and rescue services respond to serious, usually life-threatening incidents in their cars or service vehicles. The reason they respond on blue lights is to backup and support crews attending in fire appliances, and to provide that extra level of incident command at the incident scene. On larger incidents, several officers may be mobilised to the scene to provide different functions to assist the incident.

Many services supply their staff with vehicles that are clearly badged up and may have light bars fitted to the roof etc. Many senior officers now have to supply their own personal cars, in which they either have blue lights covertly fitted to the car, or they may use the magnetic roof light for the duration of the journey to the incident, which they can remove when not in use. However, when the fire officer is attending normal business or is off duty, their car is their personal car and will be used as such.

Please remember that if you see a car responding on blue lights, it is highly likely it will be on its way to a serious incident, and should be treated in a the same way as when an ambulance of police vehicle is responding.

If you encounter a blue light vehicle that you suspect is not of a genuine nature, simply take the registration and contact your local Police. They will carry out the required checks to ensure that the vehicle is genuine and does indeed belong to a fire officer.

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