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PDFWAC 204-21-130

Emergency lamps.

(1) All emergency lamps must meet the criteria established in RCW 46.37.320. In descending order of preference, these are:
(a) Conformance to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, or; if none
(b) Conformance to current standards and specifications of the Society of Automotive Engineers, or; if none
(c) Certified for compliance by any recognized organization or agency such as, but not limited to, the American National Standards Institute, the Society of Automotive Engineers, or the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.
(2) Headlamp flashing systems may be used for authorized emergency vehicles owned and operated by law enforcement agencies, licensed ambulance companies, and fire departments. Headlamp flashing systems must:
(a) Have a circuit that alternately flashes only the high beams from the headlamps at a rate of 60 to 120 flashes per minute per side.
(b) Be so designated that any failure to flash the lamps will not result in failure of the headlamp system to operate normally.
(c) Incorporate an override feature which must stop the flashing and provide full illumination from both high beam headlamps when the dimmer switch is in the high-beam mode.
(d) Have an indicator lamp included in the circuit to give a visible and unmistakable indication to the driver that the system is turned on.
(3) The following table outlines the color of emergency lamps to be used for each type of vehicle.
Vehicle Type
Lighting Required
Other Lighting Allowed
Authorized Emergency Vehicles (except Law Enforcement and Fire Department Vehicles)
1 red lamp
Flashing amber or white lamps
Law Enforcement Vehicles
1 blue lamp
Flashing red, amber, or white lamps
Fire Department Vehicles (RCW 46.37.184)
1 red lamp
Rear facing blue lamp
Flashing amber or white lamps
Volunteer Firefighter Vehicles and Firefighter Private Vehicles (RCW 46.37.185)
If approved by the chief of their respective service, green lamps may be installed on the vehicle provided that the requirements outlined in subsection (4) of this section are met.
Public utilities vehicles, other construction and maintenance vehicles, pilot cars, tow trucks, animal control vehicles, hazardous materials response team vehicles, search and rescue team vehicles, and rural newspaper carrier vehicles, and vehicles towing a load that exceeds legal dimensions.
One or more flashing amber lamps provided that the requirements of subsection (5) of this section are met.
(4) Green lamps for volunteer firefighter and firefighter private vehicles must:
(a) Meet the requirements of SAE J595 except that the color of the lamp must be green as the color described in SAE J578.
(b) Be visible for a distance of 200 feet under normal atmospheric conditions.
(c) Not have a maximum light projected in any one direction exceeding 300 candle power.
(d) Be mounted no less than 24 inches above the level surface upon which the vehicle stands, or may be placed on the forward portion of the top above the windshield.
(e) Be mounted anywhere from the center of the vehicle to the left side thereof.
(f) Be used only for the purpose of identification and the operator of a vehicle so equipped must not be entitled to any of the privileges provided in RCW 46.61.035 for the operators of authorized emergency vehicles.
(5) Amber lamps must:
(a) Be mounted and be of sufficient intensity so as to be clearly visible to approaching traffic for at least 500 feet in normal sunlight.
(b) Be mounted as outlined in WAC 204-21-020 and as follows:
(i) Must be mounted so that the entire projected area of the lens is visible from all eye heights of drivers of other vehicles at angles within 45 degrees left to 45 degrees right of the front of the vehicle. If the light within these required angles is blocked by the vehicle or any substantial object on it, an additional amber lamp must be displayed within the obstructed angle.
(ii) May be mounted at any height.
(c) Only be used on the vehicles described in subsection (3) of this section, when such vehicles are actually involved in construction, maintenance, or operations which require that warning be given to ensure the protection of the motoring public or the work crew. Lamps must not be illuminated while traveling to or from the site of operations. For the purposes of tow truck operations, the site of operations must be only that place where vehicles are attached to or detached from the tow truck. Lamps on pilot cars must be illuminated only while the vehicle is actually providing escort service. Lamps on rural newspaper delivery vehicles must only be illuminated when the vehicle is traveling on the delivery route. Lamps on oversize units may be illuminated when traveling on public roadways. The operator of these vehicles are not entitled to any other privileges provided in RCW 46.61.035 for the operators of authorized emergency vehicles.
(6) Three hundred sixty degree warning lamps must meet SAE Standard J845.
(7) Nothing in this section relieves the operator of any vehicle from displaying any other light or warning device required by statute or regulation.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 46.37.005, 46.37.320, and 46.37.194. WSR 22-21-031, § 204-21-130, filed 10/6/22, effective 11/6/22. Statutory Authority: RCW 46.37.005 and 46.37.320. WSR 08-19-104, § 204-21-130, filed 9/17/08, effective 10/18/08.]
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