Australian Emergency Vehicle Lighting

Australian Emergency Vehicle Lighting


A marked highway patrol cruiser of the Western Australia Police.
A marked Roads and Traffic Authority vehicle with Magenta lights

In Australia, colors are generally regulated at the state level, but there are some commonalities:

  • Red and Blue is used by all State and Federal Police forces, Military Police, Australian Customs as law enforcement motor vehicles. Red and blue is also used by all State and Australian Defence Force fire and ambulance services. Civilian Ambulance and most fire units across the country use red and blue lights with State Emergency Service motor vehicles in most states being authorised to use the red and blue light combination (except WA SES ). New South Wales also allows red and blue to be used by Roads and Maritime Services traffic commanders and traffic response crews designated as emergency vehicles.[10]
  • Red signifies a risk-to-life situation,[11] and is used alone by Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting (ARRF), Mines Rescue, Red Cross blood/organ transport and St John Ambulance Service. Red lighting used to be in use for fire engines, ambulances and State Emergency Service motor vehicles before they changed to red and blue.
  • Amber lights are used by roadside breakdown vehicles, Security patrol vehicles, tow trucks, road construction/repair motor vehicles and most other utility vehicles. Amber is also used by motor vehicles operating in and around airports and docks, this includes Australian Federal Police and Australian Customs vehicles which are fitted with additional amber lighting to supplement their red and blue lightbars. Queensland State Emergency Service motor vehicles are only authorized to display amber lights under certain circumstances.
  • Green lights are used to denote a stationary ambulance, fire or police command motor vehicle. In Queensland it is also used on some State Forest bush fire units along with the amber. Further, in Queensland, some municipal animal control units use a green and amber light combination.
  • Blue lights are reserved for emergency motor vehicles in general, such as police, fire, ambulance, State Emergency Service (except Queensland) and traffic commanders. Blue by itself is also used by airport emergency vehicles to designate a command vehicle. As well, in many states, it is used by volunteer firefighters.
  • Magenta (purple) lights are primarily used by heavy vehicle enforcement/escort officers of the NSW Roads and Maritime Services, Victorian VicRoads and South Australian Transport Safety Inspectors. They are also used in combination with amber lights by some council rangers[12] and the New South Wales Ministry of Transport. In Western Australia magenta is used by the Department Of Environment and Conservation ‘HAZMAT Response Unit’. Magenta is also used in some Escort Vehicles used whilst escorting large mining equipment to the north of the state.
  • White is used on most newer emergency vehicles, both as an extra color on lightbars and in the form of ‘wig-wag’ headlights.

Many police motor vehicles, and less often other emergency services, also fit LED matrix variable message displays to vehicle lightbars. Such message bars used in New South Wales by the police and fire brigade are capable of displaying numerous messages warning motorists of various hazards or dangers.[13]

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