As lighting technology continues to evolve, firefighting professionals worldwide rely on new advances in portable lighting. From enhancements in brightness, run times, distance capability and features, developments over the years have meant firefighters can carry out their jobs faster, more efficiently and most importantly, safely.
There have been many key innovations in both lighting design and features which have impacted the effectiveness of lighting at a fire scene. The rise of USB rechargeable flashlights and headlamps has enabled firefighters to recharge on the go, and there are new, multi-fuel flashlight ‘systems’ that use a rechargeable battery but can also accept disposable batteries for alternate sources of power. For situations involving smoke and water, new scene lights that are waterproof and offer powerful brightness, mean the job can be carried out more effectively. These versatile scene lights can be used in a variety of situations, from large-scale to confined spaces. Plus, there’s the flexibility of work lights that can fit in tight places, can be used hands-free or hanging, and can rotate on their bodies for light wherever it’s needed.
Advances in lighting technology have resulted in many specialised products for the fire market, such as the Survivor, the world’s leading right-angle flashlight; portable scene lights; versatile helmet lights; and lanterns such as the Vulcan 180 with blue taillights so firefighters can be spotted in thick smoke.
When determining how to meet lighting needs in various situations, fire departments should consider the functionality of various LED beams, such as spot beams for highlighting specific areas, or flood beams for illuminating wide areas. Lights mounted higher up – on the body, on a pole or a light tower configuration – can help reduce glare, enabling fire professionals to operate without light shining at eye level, possibly obscuring their vision. The Portable Scene Light EXT, for example, features a pole and rotating head that extends 84in (2.13m) high. Another model uses an innovative frame that can be stacked for up to three units, creating a bright light tower to further improve worker visibility.
Choosing the right flashlight can make all the difference in combating dense smoke or other conditions. Flexible helmet lights like the Vantage 180 X USB can be mounted to full-brim fire helmets, or by means of a ‘quick release’ helmet bracket, detached for use as a handheld light, or hooked to turnout gear to become a 90-degree light. ‘Multi-fuel’ lights allow users to conveniently recharge a battery pack or switch to disposable batteries when the need arises. Still other lights feature both spot and flood beams that also can be used together to optimise navigation and eliminate blind spots.
Fire professionals are often faced with trying conditions, and whether fighting fires, investigating fire scenes, signalling others in emergencies, or conducting rescues, having the right tool for the job is a necessity. This includes products that have earned the highest safety designations for working in environments throughout the world with potentially ignitable materials. There are several types of locations where it can be extremely dangerous to use any light that has not been specifically designed – and approved – for that location. Areas such as those with flammable gases, liquids, vapours or fibres present, which could lead to catastrophic explosions. A safety-rated flashlight that can be trusted to operate in these atmospheres is critical.
There is also a cost benefit to buying additional light equipment through rechargeable lighting solutions. While disposable flashlight batteries are cheaper, fire professionals should consider the number of personnel in their organisation, and how many types of lighting products they use over their careers. Rechargeable flashlights are tough and durable, feature extremely low operating costs, and offer convenient recharging options – Streamlight’s Li-ion Bank charger, for example, can power eight SL_B26 USB rechargeable batteries at a time. Lights with both spot and flood beams give users two lights in one, increasing the value of lighting purchases. Furthermore, versatile scene lights can be used in a variety of situations, from large-scale to confined space scenes.
Manufacturers are revolutionising LED lights and, combined with expert engineering, are making them brighter, safer and incredibly durable. Lights are available in many configurations and are supported by a range of accessories, delivering the right light exactly where it is needed. Extremely demanding industry testing is also in place to ensure the highest levels of performance and dependability, especially in dangerous conditions. Settling for mediocre is not an option when lives are at stake, and what every firefighter needs is to be able to deploy and trust a lighting device that will cover critical tasks excellently so that every operation in the dark is a success. Streamlight have worked with countless emergency service professionals for nearly 50 years now, to shape our products and deliver lighting tools that have been proven to help save lives.
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