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Ask Matt ... why some fire trucks are yellow

Q. Why are some county fire trucks painted yellow instead of red?

“Visibility,” said Blue Ridge Fire & Rescue chief Will Sheehan. “Visibility is important particularly when our trucks are responding to an accident on the interstate.” Sheehan said that probably 50 years ago there was a study that proved that yellow emergency vehicles were more visible than red. “We were a young fire department back then, so it wasn’t hard to make the change.” He added that Blue Ridge just celebrated its 60th year as a department.
According to one online source, the Dallas Fire Department began replacing red with lime-yellow trucks in the 1970s based upon compiled accident data. A more recent 1995 study found that accidents may occur three times more frequently for red (or red-white) emergency vehicles.
Actually, two other departments that serve Henderson County — Dana and Saluda — have yellow vehicles. The eleven other departments have stayed with the classic fire engine red. I suspect that to repaint any department’s trucks would be an expensive project plus red trucks look really good in parades.

Q. I read where the Henderson County Library is using new technology to track books. How does that work?

It’s not your father’s library anymore. Over the years we have seen index card drawers replaced by computer catalogs. Then came the convenient “at home” reservation and renewal system. Today we enjoy easy credit card scanning and self-checkout. But there’s more to come. Our County library staff is placing RFID “smart tags” in all its books and CDs – all 263,726 of them.
RFID is a low-level radio frequency device detected by a special reader. A white tag about four square inches in size adheres to the back cover of each book. The tag contains no visible number and is almost undetectable to the eye. Once the tags are in place a patron can check out an entire stack of books in one simple motion. Another benefit is that it will improve inventory tracking. “It’s going to be fantastic,” said Henderson County Library Director Trina Rushing. “Patrons will no longer have to search the book to find the bar code and scan it.” There is another less advertised purpose for the new smart tags – security. If an item passes an entrance check point without being scanned, a subtle alarm will sound.
Thus far the Main and Fletcher Branch libraries have been tagged. Tagging is under way in Etowah and Edneyville, Green River, and Mills River will follow. When the entire inventory is tagged the RFID system will go live, probably in January of 2020. The project was made possible with government technology grants and funds from Friends of the Library.

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