A. This has no simple answer. It depends on (1) whether or not you are a responder, (2) what your role is, (3) your local climate and terrain, (4) what local authorities use, and (5) the importance of your completing vehicular access to the incident. Let's take these one at a time:
In some parts of the country various emergency vehicle lights or specialized equipment, signs, or magnetic door signs are authorized. Local practices, customs, and laws should be observed.
All equipment and out-of-pocket expenses associated with your volunteers' duties with your government agency, the Civil Air Patrol, the Red Cross and other disaster relief or public safety agencies may be tax deductible. Professional volunteer responders keep records for this purpose. All expenses associated with a response vehicle, prorated to the percentage of its use for the volunteer activities discussed, invariably greatly exceeds the per mile rate authorized by the IRS for undocumented costs. Such costs include the cost of the vehicle, insurance, gas, oil, maintenance, repairs, car washes, and specialized equipment. The latter includes communications equipment, signaling and warning devices, maps, safety equipment, uniforms and specialized turnout or response clothing, their cleaning, a radio pager, and any other specialized equipment or supplies required or recommended by your agency. It pays to keep records. Check with your CPA and one who is, preferably, familiar with nuts like us. Yes, there are some volunteers who can't afford to quit being a volunteer!
Series authored by Stan Harter, KH6GBX.