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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – We’re shining a light, a blue light, on a question to the Your Stories Team.
A viewer recently wrote the YS Team wanting to learn more about who can use blue emergency lights in NY.
He wondered if volunteer firefighters needed special permission to have a blue light and if police enforce the law to prevent people from pretending to be emergency responders.
To get answers and clarity, the YS Team spoke with the New York State Police and the Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY).
Several emergency vehicles are allowed to have blue lights in the state of NY, including police, ambulances, tow trucks, and personal vehicles for volunteer firefighters.
Volunteer firefighters must get written permission from their fire department’s chief, which is usually in the form of a Blue Light Card.
Both NYSP and FASNY referenced an article by FASNY Attorney, Timothy Hannigan. It provides a great breakdown of the law when it comes to emergency blue lights. Hannigan writes:
“It is important to remember that a blue light is a courtesy light, only. A blue light does not confer special powers upon a personally-owned vehicle, permit a firefighter to exceed posted speed limits, or otherwise violate the Vehicle and Traffic Law.”
There are also stipulations on where the light must be placed on the vehicle and how bright it can be.
New York State Police Public Information Officer, Jack Keller, said the law is clear when it comes to distinguishing a volunteer firefighter’s personal vehicle from other emergency vehicles.
He said blue lights for volunteer firefighters must be forward-facing.
Other emergency vehicles that use blue lights have rear-facing blue lights. The viewer was also curious if the laws on blue lights are enforced and if there are issues with imposters.
Both NYSP and FASNY told the YS Team that instances of someone using a blue light illegally are extremely rare.
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