Our article on the NFPA 1901 recommendations for striping fire trucks covers the widths and types of reflective tape that should be used on the backs, sides, doors, and front of fire trucks. Reflective stripes can be applied to trucks in a few different ways, with each having its own advantages and disadvantages.
First, you can apply individual colors of striping at 45 degree angles. Colors are alternated and trimmed as they are applied. A type one or better reflective film can be used. We recommend using Oralite V98 prismatic retro reflective material. We recommend this sheeting because it is bright, conformable, and easy to work with. V98 is made as a single layer film which means it will not delaminate like other films. This is important for vehicle applications. V98 also CAD cuts very well with most any plotter. This is beneficial if you need letters and numbers that match your striping. We use it for all of our reflective shapes and have no issues cutting and weeding. (60 degree blade is recommended) Notice on the picture below that a right hand and left hand section of pre-striped were used. (see slight seam in middle)
Second, you can use pre-printed lime and red reflective material that comes in widths from 2 inches wide to 48 inches. This material is a lime V98 based film, printed with red stripes that are 6″ wide. The material comes in Left Hand and Right Hand slants. Equal amounts of each are needed for striping a truck. Application is done by applying the material to a clean, dry, and smooth surface. Stripes are lined up to create the chevron pattern. Material can be pre-trimmed and applied, or applied and then trimmed.
Lastly, you can use our pre-fabricated V98 based chevron panels. These reflective panels are rectangles and come in different sizes. Application is a simple peel and stick process. The surface can curve, but not in a compound way like a basketball. Smooth fit surfaces are best. This method is good when you have one area to stripe and would like to get the job done quickly. Especially if the area is smaller like across a tailgate. Also excellent for fleets where multiple vehicles need to be striped alike.
Steven Cole (Economics, MBA – University of West Florida , Business & Innovation – Stanford University) 25 years of experience in the reflective safety business. Specializing in vehicle accident and rear end collision reduction through increased visibility.