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Top firefighter flashlights: Your guide to selecting the right light for the job

Get the helmet-mounted or handheld light that best supplements your existing lighting solutions

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One thing you quickly realize when you start a career in fire/EMS is that our calls often place us in dark or in low-visibility areas. It feels like right in the most critical moment, we can’t use the one sense that can be the most valuable: sight. Having the right supplemental lighting in the right place can mean the difference between success and failure in the heat of the moment.

Personal flashlights are a great tool for ensuring that you can have the necessary light to treat patients, search for victims, and fight fires at all times of your shift, day or night.

There are two broad categories of flashlights for the fire service: traditional handheld flashlights and helmet-mounted options. Both can be a great complement to one another, and both have their place.

Like any piece of equipment, prices and options vary. You may not need both a helmet-mounted and traditional light; it’s more of a personal choice. Also, consider what lighting options are available on your agency’s apparatus, and look for a personal light to “fill the gap” with that extra capability. Most of these lights can be picked up for around $100 – a small price to pay for the ability to keep working when conditions get dark or smoky.

Let’s check out some of the best options in the marketplace to keep your next scene bright!

Helmet-mounted flashlights

Helemt-mounted lights need to be somewhat fireproof; a normal headlamp won’t work. A helmet-mounted light should also have a low profile. After all, we should always be thinking about how to avoid entanglement.

FoxFury Command + Tilt White LED Headlamp

The FoxFury Command + Tilt is a great example of a low-profile headlamp. The light fits on a fire helmet or other type of safety hard, making it a versatile tool for Wildland or USAR-type incidents as well. Fox Fury utilizes True to Life LED technology for more realistic colors. The light also features a red safety light that faces to the rear. It can stand up to rough duty and is NFPA-rated with the silicone strap. The front LED can be tilted to put light where you need it while reducing glare for yourself and others.

Streamlight Vantage II Helmet Light

This helmet-mounted light is a solid option from Streamlight. Built from anodized aluminum construction, the light can be attached with a small Allen screw to fire helmets or traditional hard hats. Streamlight designed the Vantage with single-button operation to activate either high- or low-lighting modes, and it also has a Safe OFF mode to prevent unintended activation. With rear blue LED tail lights, the Vantage will also help other members of your team keep track of your location.

QuiqLiteX2 Personal Light

While not exactly a headlamp, the QuiqLite still can be worn nearly anywhere. The lightweight clip can be attached to a pocket or MOLLE straps, and has magnets to attach the light to metal surfaces. The light can be easily turned on and switched between white and night-vision saving red LEDs with the touch of a single button.

Handheld flashlights

Sometimes, a flashlight that can stay focused in one place, even while you are moving, is critical. You may also need more brightness or distance. These handheld flashlights provide the additional power you may need while still being small enough to be portable. Look for optics that are optimized to penetrate smoke without the beam dispersing into the smoke. A light without this feature can make things worse by making the smoke all around you glow instead of letting you see through it.

NightStick Intrant Intrinsically Safe Right Angle Light

Many of the lights on the market are intrinsically safe, meaning they can be used in certain OSHA or MSHA-rated flammable atmospheres. This can be important if you work in an industrial setting, so you can utilize your light in these areas. This model has an intrinsically safe rating, and also offers an adjustable 90-degree angle light, along with a 45-degree flood light as well.

Pelican Little Ed

We all want a solid right-angle flashlight that is light enough not to get in the way. The easy-to-use on/off switch and glow-in-the-dark lens ring make it easy to find and use even with gloves. Since it’s from Pelican, the makers of our favorite rugged cases, you know that it’s water- and dust-proof.

Streamlight Survivor X Flashlight

This light is a great updated version of the classic Streamlight turnout light. The optics focus the Xenon beam into a narrow pattern to penetrate smoke better and reduce light scattering. Multiple brightness modes mean you can use a lower intensity if needed – and save better power. It can be powered by the rechargeable battery park, or you can use an alkaline battery pack. The flashlight has a flash signaling mode and is intrinsically safe for Class1, Div 2 locations. The large single rubber button on the top makes the light easy to turn on and off even with turnout gloves on.

Streamlight 4 AA ProPolymer LED Flashlight

This light is a great choice for a waterproof, rugged flashlight with a simple on/off control. This model also fits into special holders on many brands of rescue helmets, so it’s a great choice for USAR or other tech rescue incidents.

Andrew Beck is a firefighter/EMT and shift training officer with the Mandan City (N.D.) Fire Department. Beck is a live burn instructor and teaches thermal imaging and fire dynamics across N.D. He is also the Mountain Operations manager at Huff Hills Ski Area, where he leads the outside operations teams. Beck has a background in crew resource management and has completed research on how people and organizations operate in stressful environments. Beck was previously a staff member for the Firefighter Near Miss Reporting System.