But since the Riverdale Park fire department was started in 1923, its trucks have been white on the top and black on the bottom with a gold stripe in between.
A history of the fire department says it’s a tradition that just stuck:
This is the way it was in the 1920’s in Riverdale and the that is the way things are today. With the fire service changing constantly, with new innovations and standards being set, it is refreshing to see in Riverdale that some traditions remain. From the original pictures of our rescue boat, motorcycle with side car and our very first pumper to our new ninety-five foot elevating platform, it is basically the same color scheme. Some things should and do remain the same.
The history notes that at one time, the Riverdale Heights fire department had a red truck and a pumper painted blue, so people would sometimes see red, white and blue trucks at the scene of a fire.
White fire trucks are more noticeable at night than red ones. In fact, psychological studies of visual perception found that lime green is the safest color for fire trucks. But most trucks these days come with reflective stripes that make the truck color less important.
Fire departments also tend to go with red since they tend to be leased, as one captain told the Washington Post a few years ago.
“At the end of the lease, when you turn them back in, it’s easier to sell a red and white truck, as opposed to white or green. People want the traditional red firetruck,” he said.