Vol. 3, Issue 3, February 1, 2005
Blue State Firefighters Make Statement With New Paint Job
A group of volunteer firefighters in Mount Ranier, Maryland have raised eyebrows around the state for using their fire trucks to make an unusual political statement.
"We haven't decided yet what action to take, if any," said Michael Alfieri, president of the Prince Georges County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, which services Mount Ranier. "I mean, it's not like they're wearing buttons or badges on the job, so I'm not sure what we can do."
The firefighters of Company 57 aren't wearing political buttons, but they do want to make a message clear: they are part of a "blue state," and are strong supporters of the Democratic party. That's why, apparently, they painted their fire trucks blue.
"I voted against Bush in 2000, and again in 2004," said Captain Brent Mickelson. "We all did. And I am tired of the "red states" boasting about how we're a "red nation" now. Well I want nothing to do with the color red. We're a blue county in a blue state, and feeling mighty blue might I add after the inauguration. Painting the trucks seemed like a good idea."
Prince Georges County is a heavily Democratic county which voted for Kerry by a factor of four to one in the last election. However, residents are uneasy with Company 57's approach.
"It doesn't seem right," said Mary Tennenbaum, a resident of Mount Ranier. "Fire trucks are just supposed to be red. I am very worried that this will confuse my little boy Henry. He's not very bright, you know."
The debate is complicated by the fact that a prominent 1995 study in the Journal of Safety Research concluded that red fire trucks were less visible and nearly three times as likely to be involved in an accident than fire trucks painted in other colors such as lime-yellow.
"Our study did not examine the accident rate of fire trucks painted blue," admitted Stephen Solomon, one of the authors of the study. "I'd be interested in seeing what happens to this company's vehicles in the next few years. I wonder if they'd mind painting a few trucks in some of the other colors we missed, like fuschia maybe."
Further complicating matters is the fact that, despite the widespread and fervent identification of the red and blue states this past election, the color assignments vary, with the incumbent party alternating between the two every election. This means that in 2008 the incumbent Republican party will be represented by blue instead of red in most major media outlets.
"Well until then our trucks stay blue," said Mickelson. "And I'm avoiding red food like ketchup too. I just wish they sold more blue food though. It's going to be a hungry four years."