The unfortunate reality of public safety is that accidents and incidents happen at all hours of the day and in some of the most inconvenient locations. Drunk people leave the bar and drive into a lake at 2am. People fall asleep at night with candles burning next to their curtains. Tired truck drivers carrying toxic chemicals flip their trucks on dark remote roads.
Whatever it is, and you probably have stories of your own, there will be a need for portable scene lighting to illuminate an incident at night. You need light to do your job, no matter if you're a battalion chief or firefighter cutting vents in a roof. Scene lighting helps you to do your job more effectively and safely.
Scene lighting refers to lighting that can illuminate a large area of an accident scene, building, or roadway. Portable scene lights are designed to set up and positioned around a scene but feature a smaller, lighter design that can easily be moved as needs arise.
Portable scene lights feature LED modules that are brighter and more efficient than older halogen lights. A relatively small light can produce enough light output to illuminate a large area. Efficient LEDs provide exceptionally long runtimes.
Portable scene lights are battery powered so they don't require restrictive cords connected to trucks or generators for power. They can be moved and positioned anywhere on a scene. This is beneficial when there are remote areas that can't be accessed by truck scene lights.
The Benefits of Portable Scene Lighting
Portable, battery-powered scene lighting provides several benefits to first responders.
Speed - When you arrive on the scene, seconds count. Battery-powered scene lights take seconds to deploy. One person can stage lights around an incident in 2-5 minutes.
Portability - Portable scene lights can be set up anywhere around an incident. Since they are fully self-enclosed, they don't require the lights additional power source to be moved and reconnected. If the conditions of the incident change, light can be easily repositioned by one person.
Truck-mounted scene lights are powerful! But....they only light up the area in proximity of the truck. If the incident is away from where the truck can access, then the truck-mounted lights lose their effectiveness. Portable scene lights can be easily carried to anywhere the crew needs them. Light up walkways, the inside of a wrecked car, or down a well or manhole.
No Cords - Battery-powered scene lights don't need a generator for power. No generator means no cords to connect the lights to a generator. This makes it easier and faster to set up lights around a scene. A responder can set lights up however needed them to be set up not restricted by cord length.
Enhanced Safety - No cords reduce the potential for trip hazards. A cord running across a walkway is an invitation for somebody to catch it, fall, and possibly bring down the light with them.
Silent Operation - The lack of a generator means one less noise source. In chaotic situations, less noise can help communication and stress levels of responders.
Alleys and the Backs of Buildings - When trucks and engines are confined to the front of buildings or the street, a tall scene light is necessary to shine over the top of alley walls and fences.
Illuminate for Drone Overwatch - Drones provide a unique perspective, but at night a drone's thermal cameras have limited sight abilities. With a high-profile scene light, your drone will be able to see nighttime elements that the thermal camera can not pick up.
Incident Command - The IC is often positioned away from the apparatus at the scene. A portable scene light can provide lighting for the Chief's equipment, tools, radios, etc. without taking up valuable storage space within the command vehicle/Battalion car. Depending on the nature of the incident, Command Posts may need to be relocated quickly. Portable lighting allows the Command staff the ease of deployment and the flexibility of portability.
Entryways and Points of Egress - These are often not located in the same area. Entryways and points of egress can be far away from an apparatus-mounted scene light. Firefighters need a toolbox of lighting applications that includes a portable scene light that is easy to move, can handle rugged terrain, and environmental conditions. This isn’t a request, it is a requirement for the job of a firefighter.
Dynamic Situations - An Emergency Incident such as a structure fire can quickly escalate into a HazMat situation and/or a building collapse that alters the entry or escape routes. Portable lighting that can be moved and promptly assembled is critical for these dynamic scenarios.
Waterproof - Water is a factor at almost all fires. Fire crews are often called to assist in water rescues and during the response to flooding disasters. Waterproof scene lights are especially helpful when working in a body of water where a vehicle could be partially submerged.
Height - Scene lights need to be tall enough to raise up above alley walls, bushes, vehicles, and people. A scene light should be at least 8' to provide the most versatility in challenging locations.
Beam adjustability - A light with spot and flood capability increases the use-ability in a variety of situations. The light can be switched between spot mode for long range search and area setting for immediate task lighting. This adjustability allows the responder to transition quickly between different environments and situations.
Prime with area diffuser (left), Prime on spot mode (right)
Silent Operation - Battery-powered scene lights don't need loud generators so they are completely silent. In chaotic situations, not adding another source of noise can help communication and stress levels.
Cordless - Battery-powered scene lights also don't require cords to connect to a generator. This means faster setup, freedom to move lights and less trip hazards.
Unfortunately, we don't get to choose when incidents happen. And often, especially in winter, they happen at night. Portable scene lights allow crews to effectively light up a whole incident, not just the part that is near the truck.
Portable scene lights provide critical illumination all around the fire ground that enhances safety and makes it easier for firefighters to do their job.