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Illuminating options for better scene lighting

Here's a look at what is available in portable scene lighting packages and how much you can expect to pay


In May 2012 I wrote, "Lighting up the Fireground," in which I made a case for illumination of the emergency scene as a third parallel strategy on the emergency scene along with ventilation and salvage. 

Today, I'll be taking a look at a sampling of what's in the marketplace and what pricing looks like for the various types of illumination equipment.

Continued improvements in storage battery technology, and the advent of light-emitting diodes as a powerful general lighting source, have hastened the development of lightweight and portable lighting equipment. 

Lithium-ion batteries, sometimes Li-ion battery or LIB, are becoming a common replacement for heavier lead acid batteries that have been used historically for golf carts and utility vehicles. LIBs are increasingly found in a wide variety of portable tools including lighting assemblies.

Another entry into the lightweight rechargeable battery arena is the nickel–metal hydride battery, abbreviated NiMH or Ni-MH — its chemical reactions are somewhat similar to the largely obsolete nickel–cadmium cell (NiCd). A NiMH battery can have two to three times the capacity of an equivalent-size NiCd, and its energy density approaches that of a lithium-ion cell.

LEDs have many advantages over incandescent light sources including lower energy consumption, longer lifespan, improved physical robustness, smaller size and faster switching.

Portable lights
FoxFury's Nomad 4000 portable area-spot light is a portable and rechargeable combination LED area light and spotlight. The unit can be quickly deployed, telescopes up to 8 feet tall as a tripod light, and can fold into a 33-inch tube for easy transport. It's powered by an internal lithium-ion battery and requires no generator. It sells for $1,187.

Pelican's ProGear 9420 work light has two LEDs that provide wide area light in a work light that collapses to 29 inches. Once on scene, the Pelican 9420 can be extended up to 5 feet high, and the light head pivots up or down to optimize lighting in any area. Powered by a lithium-ion rechargeable battery, the Pelican ProGear 9420 weighs 8.4 pounds and sells for $250.

For more lighting punch, Pelican has the 9440 RALS (Rapid Area Lighting System), which can be set up in 10 seconds and has a masthead that extends 7 feet. The 10-LED array provides 2,400 lumens to light up a large area with a 120-degree beam spread.

The Pelican 9440 weighs 16 pounds and can be transported using the included shoulder strap. The internal rechargeable NiMH battery is maintenance free and provides three hours of light in high and six hours in the low setting. It sells for $1,060.

The TM1 Green Hornet scene light with stand comes with an attached telescoping quad-pod stand, two round 7-inch military-grade lights with high output LEDs. The lights can be operated independently on high (both lights) or low (single light). Each light can rotate 360 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise and 180 degrees horizontally. It sells for $1,763.

Magnalite.com offers a line of self-contained light tower packages that provide high power and portability in a compact and durable design. Their LED light towers include two to four 24-W LED lights mounted on a telescoping aluminum mast that can be adjusted from 3 to 8 feet in total height.

Lighting time, depending upon the configuration, is five to 27 hours at full power on a single full charge of its onboard batteries. The various packages — which include the lights, tower, rechargeable battery and stand — weigh

between 45 and 55 pounds. They sell for as much as $2,300.

Portable generator and light packages
Portable generators continue to become smaller, more powerful and more energy efficient. The manufacturers of portable lighting assemblies are using small, portable generator to deliver on-scene lighting options that include:

  • Longer lighting duration when compared to battery-powered units.
  • Eliminating the need to carry spare batteries and charging equipment for battery-powered units.
  • Multi-purpose use for other tasks on scene that require electrical power.

Ventry Solutions provides a full line of generator-powered portable-lighting systems using Honda EU-series generators that are smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient than conventional generators — using 20 to 40 percent less fuel.

The Lentry Legs add all-terrain versatility to the generators by lifting, leveling and improving ergonomics. Customer can mix and match the individual components to the lighting package that best meets their needs.

An example package including a Honda EU1000i generator, legs/frame for EU1000i generator, a dual-light base, and two 650-W standard pole lights sells for $3,188.

Akron Brass offers a line of generator and light packages with Honda portable generators that support Akron Brass 300-, 500-, 650-, or 750-W halogen light heads. A sample package that includes the Honda EU2000i generator, a single 500-W halogen light head, and pull-up light pole is approximately $2,800.

Though this is admittedly a small sampling of what's available on the market today, it should give you and your department a good start on increasing your on-scene lighting options.

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