Why does the Chicago Fire Department outfit their trucks and stations with Green Lights?
Between myths, legends, and even superstitions there is real history behind the green lights that the Chicago Fire Department (CFD) mount on their trucks, apparatus, and stations. Is it to make all of the other cities green with envy over the special color, is it to respect a fallen fire fighter; or is it to protect them through each call? To put it simply, yes. Chicago is a city based on tradition, and these green lights represent exactly that.
This tradition can be followed back to 1927, when Albert Goodrich became the Fire Commissioner. Commissioner Goodrich brought his strong family ties to the steamship industry with him. Continued even today, a ship requires a red light on the port (left) side and a green light on the starboard (right) of its vessel. These warning lights allowed safe passage during inclement weather and travel through the breakwaters. When Goodrich started as commissioner this is one of the things he first implemented on CFD's completely motorized fleet.
These green lights have come to represent a strong tradition comprised of courage and sense of belonging among firefighters in the Chicago area. Green lights that appear on apparatus, command vehicles, and stations have also become a symbol for fallen fighters. This tradition is so embedded that many of the surrounding communities have adopted it. You will see green lights on several vehicles throughout the Chicago suburbs.