How to Select a Fire Light
Learn which Fire Light is right for your fire fighting situation
Having the right equipment is crucial for a firefighter. Facing hazard and protecting public safety demands reliable and rugged gear that can go where you go. Choosing the best light makes your job easier, safer, and smarter.
For a firefighter, it is vital to select a light that can endure high temperatures and heavy use, but is not too bulky. Generally, firefighting lights should have a non-metallic body to avoid burns on the skin. They should be easy to turn on and off with gloves, simple in design, lightweight and exceptionally bright. The light should also have a tight, focused beam that reduces the amount of reflected light back to user when looking through smoke, particulate, or water vapor.
Your best firelight also depends on the kind of firefighting you meet most often.
Types of Fire Lights
We’ve provided the entire list of UK Fire Lights. Considering personal safety and environmental factors is critical when selecting a fire light, so we’ve also outlined the different styles and functions to help you choose the best fire light for your situation.
Helmet Mounted Lights
A hands-free light attached to a helmet is a key piece of equipment for any firefighter. The advantages of a helmet mounted light include the free use of your hands, the light always aiming at the direction you are facing, and increased visibility to others.
When choosing between our selection of primary helmet mounted lights, the 3AA eLED CPO weighs less and costs less than the 4AA eLED CPO, but the 4AA eLED CPO is also brighter by 10 lumens. The 3AA and 4AA Xenon are selected by our cost conscious consumers while all of these lights are less expensive than the Nitex Pro. All of these lights need a Rylee Clip or Adjustable Stainless Steel clip to be attached to a fire helmet. Of these, the Nitex Pro is a rechargeable light, while the 3AA and 4AA lights use conventional, single-use batteries. These lights are all waterproof, lightweight, highly durable and extremely bright. They each emit a tight, focused beam that cuts through even the thickest smoke and increases your visibility in areas with a lot of smoke, fog, or water mist.
As far as the light switch options, it is mainly personal preference but the tail switch version allows the user to quickly identify where the on/off switch is located and is easier to turn on than the front switch version especially while wearing gloves and attached to your helmet. The twist bezel is also easier to turn on and off as well, but the motion sometimes twists the helmet around.
Helmet mounted lights mounted with helmet clips are the ideal combination. Having a helmet clip that allows the light to be quickly removed for use as a hand-held light is also preferred. UK provides helmet clips that fit the European firefighter helmet and the standard American structural firefighter helmet. Choose from our selection of American Style Helmet Clips or European Style Helmet Clips.
However, if you use the much lighter weight hard hat for wildland firefighting, then a rubber strap mounted headlamp may be preferrable. It holds the weight of the light closer to the center of mass and is less likely to tilt the hard hat. Or, for non-structural work, or if you are an EMT or medic, you might want to consider a dedicated headlamp such as UK’s 3AAA eLED® Vizion™ I Headlamp for wildlands usage.
Right Angle Lights
Many firefighters use right angle lights as their hands-free device, or as trusted backup lights. They can be mounted to the bunker coat or tied to the shoulder strap. UK right angle lights can rotate in any direction, giving you ability to see in front of you whether you are walking or crawling. UK's Right Angle Zoom is smaller and lighter weight than others out there and it also has the ability to point the light beam left or right as in the head is not fixed or static.
Right angle lights are a suitable choice for many different types of firefighting. This includes EMT use or wildlands firefighting, where you may not use a standard fire helmet, or may go without a helmet.
The 4AA Right Angle Accessory that comes with UK right angle lights offers hands free lighting on demand. The 4AA Right Angle Accessory quickly attaches to the UK4AA Right Angle Xenon and the UK4AA Right Angle eLED Zoom light. Once attached, it allows you to rotate the angle of the beam to perfectly place light on your work surface, leaving your hands free to work.
The 3AAA eLED® Vizion™ I Headlamp
Headlamps provide an eye-level light source that leaves your hands free for work and can be a strong choice for wildlands firefighting, or for EMT use.
The 3AAA eLED® Vizion™ I Headlamp is the best in its class and fully waterproof. It has an adjustable beam, allowing the user to alternate between lighting up an entire scene and using a very tight beam. Whether worn on your head or placed on a helmet, the strap has a secure grip leaving your hands free for whatever your job demands, but is also lightweight and comfortable so you’ll barely notice it is there.
The Vizion I also uses UK's Compound Path Optics (CPO) technology that reduces the spill of the light, allowing it to reduce the amount of reflected light glare back and pierce through dust, mist or smoke. It is also only intrinsically safe headlamp that does not rely upon a hinge for light adjustment. A headlamp hinge has always been susceptible to breakage and the Vizion I eliminates any possible problems.
Secondary Backup Lights
Most seasoned firefighters recommend that whatever type of work you do, you should always carry a backup flashlight. These should also be safe, durable, waterproof lights that are certified for hazardous situations and will not let you down when you need them.
Backup lights should be bright, compact and lightweight. Consider carrying a UK Mini Light like the UK Penlights and Mini Pocketlights, which also allow you to see in very tight spaces. However, if size is less of an issue, the Gatorlite 3C eLED hand-held light is preferred by those who want to have a longer battery life, along with a very bright beam.
Most firefighters would recommend carrying at least two lights, if not more, on all calls in case of a light failure. Having a brightly colored flashlight may be a good choice, in case a light falls when being used, making it easier to find in a heavy smoke environment. A secondary light is a valuable item to have with you to help you find any lost items.
Fire Department Public Safety Divers
For Public Safety Divers, the Light Cannon eLED , the Super Q eLED Rechargable and the SL4 eLED light are ideal for assisting divers in evidence or body recovery and underwater vehicle searches. Main differences include size, weight, and brightness. The Light Cannon eLED is a larger primary light with the performance that matches - it is one of UK's best selling lights. The SL4 is a very small primary light with tremendous light output. The Super Q works ideally as a backup light and fits in your BC.
UK is the world’s largest producer of diving lights. Our experience allows us to create high-powered search and rescue lights that work in the most hostile environments. Our lights are smaller, lighter, and brighter than others on the market. Here is the entire list of UK lights we recommend for Fire Search and Rescue.
Disposable vs. Rechargeable Fire Lights
The Nitex Pro® Rechargeable is fully rechargeable and comes with its own charger so there is no danger of leaving the batteries in the charger when duty demands. However, the light can also use CR123 batteries as an emergency back up, if the rechargeable battery begins to lose charge. A low battery indicator is also included in the Nitex Pro® Rechargeable that momentarily blinks the light every 7 seconds to alert the user that battery is at 10% capacity or less. Learn more about the Nitex Pro® on our Featured Fire Lights Page.
Working in hazardous locations demands products with the highest safety certifications. Our line of certified fire lights are rigorously tested to American, Canadian, and European standards.
Xenon vs. LED Fire Lights
Lights with Xenon bulbs are generally less expensive, but are not as bright and tend to use up their batteries more quickly.
The advantages of LED lights include increased burn time (a bulb will last up to 50,000 hours before needing to be replaced), increased brightness and higher energy efficiency. Our LED lights also come equipped with UK's proprietary Compound Path Optics technology, which focuses the light beam on a very tight area with minimul spill from the center of the beam, allowing the powerfully bright light to penetrate smoke and not reflect back on the user.
Compound Path Optics (CPO)
When there’s fog, smoke, or dust in the air, a broad-beamed light can blind your co-workers or reflect off of particles in the air or water making for poor visibility. That’s why the engineers at UK developed our patented Compound Path Optics (CPO) technology. The unique design of the CPO reflector captures the light and focuses it into a brighter, and more narrow beam with almost no "spill light". This allows the light to cut through smoke, providing maximum visibility smoke or dust filled environments.
Thermal Recovery System
UK's proprietary Thermal Recovery System recycles heat from the LED to warm batteries for improved performance and efficiency. This allows our lights to operate in lower temperatures than competing lights. Recycling the heat away from the LED contributes to increased light output and longer run times. Lights with this heat sink technology outperform other brands that do not channel the heat away from their LED.
The helmet mount is how the light is secured to the helmet. There are several methods available. The common thick rubber band or inner tube are very inexpensive, but do not allow a great deal of flexibility in adjusting the beam, and they are susceptible to melting in high heat environments.
Metal or plastic mounting brackets attach to the helmet and offer the user flexibility to set the light beam to the desired position. Mounts or light holders that keep offer a lower profile will prevent the light from being moved or damaged and less entanglement issues.
Mounts or light holders that offer a lower profile will prevent the light from being moved or damaged.
No matter what type of helmet or hardhat you use, UK has a clip to fit. Our certified flashlights such as UK3AAs, UK4AAs and Nitex® eLED® Rechargeable flashlight are designed to be helmet mounted, giving you a perfect hands-free solution.