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Fire truck question


vision386
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I know we have a lot of Firemen and fire equipment buffs here on BMT,i had a question regarding something I saw Wednesday.I was leaving a delivery in Maryland wed.afternoon and a fire engine came up behind me (lights and siren) so I pulled over to let them by,when I looked in the mirror,this truck had a BLINDING spinning 3 lense strobe-type light on it,that would just about give you a seizure! I just wondered what the pupose of this is? visibility? (it works if so!) or is it a regional thing? I don't remember seeing anything like this before,and was just curious about it...................................Mark

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Mack Truck literate. Computer illiterate.

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I believe they are a regional thing mostly along the east coast area much like Power Call Sirens. We have began seeing the Roto Ray Lights here in the midwest a little bit. Like maybe 1 in 15 departments and only on 1 of that departments truck.

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The name is Roto Ray and was big back in the 50's. They seem to have been making a comeback in the last few years and now offer LED lights. I think the company is a small Mom and Pop operation, or was years ago. Yes they are unusual and effective. While most are mounted in the center, the Washington Fire Co. in Conshohocken, Pa. had one ALF engine that the light was mounted on the drivers side. I have a friend that has a retired truck and places a green bulb in the fixture at Christmas.

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The last department I was with has three front line rigs with Roto-Rays mounted in the center of each nose. If you don't see them coming at you, it's time to remove the blindfold.

Yes, they were very popular back in the fifties and sixties, then they seemed, "dated" and fell out of favor for a while.

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the orginal Roto Rays rotated much slower than the new verisons ,my fire dept .has one on the new ladder tower ,was a $22OO.OPTION and they do get the driving public Attension. Also back before even the Roto Ray lights ,their was the Exhaust whistle ( a device placed in the exhaust pipe before the muffler ) I have one on my 54LS85 MACK and it really screams when operated.

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A long and interesting history accompanies the Roto-Ray light. Originally from Ohio, the light was quite popular in many places around the US for a long time. The City of Detroit was a big user for example along with many east coast departments.

The older, original lights were called "Buckeye" Roto-Rays after the manufacturer's full name derived from Ohio's nick name. It was a small family owned business that eventually ceased operations as the family members passed on. A friend and former co-worker, Richard Slepetz of Herndon, VA bought the patents, name, etc. from the family and resurrected the company a few years ago.

He is making the lights, literally out of his garage, and has turned it into quite a success. He is a fellow antique truck collector and has a very nice mid fifties GMC/American pumper that he has totally restored. The truck was one of the first he rode on as a career firefighter with Fairfax County.

The Pa. Pump Primer's newsletter had a great article on Roto-Rays a few years ago. Maybe someone who is a PPP member can find it and put it on here.

The the old Buckeye lights can command upwards of $1000.00 if they are in good condition and they can be hard to find. Here is a picture of my 1952 Type 75A with the factory equipped Roto-Ray light I found for it.

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Money, sex, and fire; everybody thinks everyone else is getting more than they are!

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