Lighting Options on Ambulances

By Alan M. Petrillo

Lighting manufacturers offer a wide array of choices for warning, scene, and interior lighting on ambulances. Such lighting is typically made up of a variety of LED models that are being placed on the front, sides, and rear; in compartments; on the undercarriage; and inside the rigs.

Whelen Engineering makes a variety of lighting products for ambulances and specialty emergency medical services (EMS) vehicles, including the Hundred Series, SurfaceMax Series, M-Series, 4500 series and Freedom IV series light bars, and Pioneer™ series lighting, says Paul Deming, Whelen’s national sales manager for the fire and EMS markets. “We are seeing a growing trend in the use of our various Pioneer series scene lighting on ambulances,” Deming notes. “Some departments are choosing Pioneer scene lights that use our Proclera™ silicone optic, which is an optically clear silicone that is molded cold to reduce the shrinkage distortion common in plastic optics, resulting in maximized light output and efficiency while creating an efficient optical system.”

The Freedom IV series light bar made by Whelen Engineering Inc. features advanced Linear Super-LED optics, DYAD™ two-level technology, and 360 degrees of continuous light.

1 The Freedom IV series light bar made by Whelen Engineering Inc. features advanced Linear Super-LED optics, DYAD™ two-level technology, and 360 degrees of continuous light. (Photo courtesy of Whelen Engineering Inc.)

Deming says that the 4500 series light bar comes in lengths starting at 22 inches and can be mounted on the ambulance body. “The Freedom IV series also is a standard for ambulances and features advanced Linear Super-LED optics, DYAD™ two-level technology, and 360 degrees of contiguous light,” Deming points out. He adds that another lighting choice for ambulances is Whelen’s latest white illumination innovation, the Arges® remote control spotlight, which can rotate a continuous 360 degrees and has a 180-degree tilt range.

Whelen also recently introduced the CenCom Core™ system to the ambulance industry. Deming says, “Advanced control and automation of lighting is a game-changing innovation for the EMS market, as it can help improve first responder safety.” CenCom Core delivers advanced control of warning/scene lighting, sirens, and interior dome lights, he points out, “and also allows for Dynamic Variable Intensity (DVI™) patterns, an innovative series of flash patterns designed to improve the level of safety at nighttime emergency scenes. DVI patterns help better convey visual information to approaching motorists, clearly indicating when an emergency vehicle is parked and improving the ability to navigate around an emergency scene safely.”

Andy Plofkin, national account manager of municipal and dealer sales for Safe Fleet, says that FRC offers several models of LED surface-mounted lights for ambulances, which means no cutouts in the body. “Departments are choosing the Spectra 900 series that puts out 7,000 lumens; the Spectra 950 series at 5,000 lumens; and the SPA260, a combination spot and flood scene light at 15,000 or 20,000 lumens,” Plofkin points out. “We offer the lights in chrome, white, and black bezels, and the light chosen often depends on the size of the ambulance, with larger rigs leaning toward the larger lumen lights. We usually see the SPA260 on the side in the middle of the box, where it can provide a lot of perimeter and depth lighting. We also have seen our Spectra MS at 14,000 lumens on a pole mount.”

Louis Zara, Safe Fleet’s lighting product line manager, says the FRC Crestlight low-profile LED light bar is a popular choice for ambulances. “It’s under two inches in height and comes in 14-, 49-, 62-, and 68-inch lengths that give a combination of narrow flood and low beam lighting, from 2,600 to 17,800 lumens,” Zara notes. “Some ambulances carry our Vantage Point LED light of 7,000 lumens that has a 360-degree rotation and a large light pattern that covers up to 130 feet. The light is offered in white and black housings and has an automatic return-to-stow feature.”

This New Castle (IN) EMS ambulance carries an assortment of FRC Spectra 950 LED perimeter lights and FRC Spectra 900 LED flood and loading lights.

2 This New Castle (IN) EMS ambulance carries an assortment of FRC Spectra 950 LED perimeter lights and FRC Spectra 900 LED flood and loading lights. (Photo courtesy of Safe Fleet/FRC.)

Plofkin adds that FRC also makes DuroLumen LED lighting designed to be installed flush in the interior of an ambulance. “It’s offered in white or red lighting, of 500, 1,400, and 2,800 lumens,” he says. “We also have the WorkPro LED350, a smaller version in a recessed mount. Our SunStrip, made in nine-inch increments from nine to 63 inches, can be installed in interior and exterior compartments, on flat or horizontal surfaces, or affixed with screws or double-back tape to the drip edge. For step lighting, understep lighting, and compartments, we also make the FireFly, which looks like a martial arts star but with LEDs on it. It has an anodized aluminum housing, is surface-mounted, and puts out 650 lumens.”

Sam Massa, president and chief technologist of HiViz LED Lighting, says his company’s FireTech High Output Robotic LED Scene Light is being used on ambulances. “It’s available in two versions,” Massa says, “an extremely high-output LED scene light of 28,000 lumens with a 40-degree beam pattern and a 100-watt single LED ‘cannon’ version that shines a beam of usable light upward of 2,000 feet.” HiViz also makes the Guardian Scene Light that uses angled circuit boards and optics to illuminate three distinct lighting zones—down the side of the body, the general-purpose work area, and long distance >project.

This ambulance has HiViz’s Guardian LED surface-mount scene lights at the top of the patient module and a series of FireTech LED grille lights.

3 This ambulance has HiViz’s Guardian LED surface-mount scene lights at the top of the patient module and a series of FireTech LED grille lights. (Photo courtesy of HiViz.)

Massa says some departments are choosing HiViz’s FireTech MiniBrow Series lights for their ambulances. “The MiniBrow series uses the same core extrusion technology as our FireTech Brow Light but offers single-circuit solutions that can be used in virtually any other area on the ambulance,” he says. “We also make the FireTech HD Strip light for use in compartments and the FT-AQX Undercarriage Light to illuminate underneath the rig.”

Sean McShea, headquarters account manager for Tomar Electronics Inc., says that Tomar makes the Scorpion light bar that’s used on ambulances, an LED modular fixture using Clear Vision Optics hermetically sealed to be waterproof in an extruded aluminum housing. “In terms of light heads, we make several different lines,” McShea says, “but our most popular is the Revolution Warning and Illumination series, which comes in 4- × 6-inch, 3- × 7-inch, and 7- × 9-inch versions. The 3- × 7- and 7- × 9-inch models are multifunction, combining warning and illumination into one light.”

McShea points out that Tomar makes an LED Rectangular series for exterior warning lighting and interior illumination. “The series comes in 13-inch, 14-inch, 14-inch-infrared, and 16-inch sizes,” he says. “Also, we recently released the Aspire modular system for scene illumination. It has two 10-inch lines of LEDs, one each for spot and flood, and is available in 12- or 24-volt versions.”

Levi Propst, director of marketing for Feniex Industries, points out that Feniex recently launched its Quad series LED light. “It’s the world’s first four-color emergency warning lighting line, user programmable in red, blue, amber, and white,” Propst says. “The Quad can be used in a light bar, as a surface-mount scene light, perimeter lighting, or light stick. When used in a light bar, it has 15 programmable color settings; has a 60-degree optical light spread for off-axis visibility; and is capable of flood mode, cruise mode, and stop-turn-tail patterns.”

Gary Billings, national sales manager of Innomotive Solutions Group (ISG), says ISG’s Amdor makes the Luma Bar® lighting product line. “Our Advanced Light System offers a high-output LED light source in a small package,” Billings points out. Amdor offers the ALS-V LED light, typically used in ambulance interiors and compartments, he says, the ALS-I five-inch round LED light with a frosted lens for interior applications, the ALS-I seven-inch rectangular for interior use, the ALS-W four-inch rectangular warning light, and the Integral light for compartments covered by rollup doors.

Innomotive Solutions Group’s Amdor makes the Luma Bar lighting product line, shown in the back of this ambulance providing blue strip lighting.

4 Innomotive Solutions Group’s Amdor makes the Luma Bar® lighting product line, shown in the back of this ambulance providing blue strip lighting. (Photo courtesy of Amdor.)

Jason Adair, regional sales manager for Braun Industries Inc., says the hottest item for interiors of ambulances these days is dome lights. “With COVID-19 still around, manufacturers are putting in dome/ultraviolet (UV) type lights in patient modules,” Adair points out. “Typically, we install blue lighting in the module and as strip lighting at the base of cabinets, which can be dimmed so they don’t affect the patient so much.” Adair adds that some ambulances are being outfitted with UV light filters in their heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, like the Pro Air system.

Chad Newsome, national sales manager for PL Custom Body and Equipment Company Inc., says there’s a change happening in the lighting industry now, with a lot more LED manufacturers than 10 years ago. “Ambulance purchasers are in a great spot because they have so many different avenues to look at all the options now,” Newsome says. On the subject of lighting and scene safety, Newsome observes, “Some companies are syncing lights together so all their trucks on the scene flash the same way, while others are putting in dimming qualities in their LEDs to reduce the intensity of the lighting, making it safer because the lights aren’t so blinding on the scene.”

This Walkersville (MD) Volunteer Rescue Company ambulance built by PL Custom Body and Equipment Company has TecNiq LED spot/driving lights, a front-mount Roto Ray LED light, a Whelen Freedom IV Super-LED 55-inch light bar, a Whelen 4500 rear light bar, a Whelen traffic advisor, Whelen M series and ION series warning lights, and Power Arc LED-210-1 lights on the sides of the bumper extension.

5 This Walkersville (MD) Volunteer Rescue Company ambulance built by PL Custom Body and Equipment Company has TecNiq LED spot/driving lights, a front-mount Roto Ray LED light, a Whelen Freedom IV Super-LED 55-inch light bar, a Whelen 4500 rear light bar, a Whelen traffic advisor, Whelen M series and ION series warning lights, and Power Arc LED-210-1 lights on the sides of the bumper extension. (Photo courtesy of PL Custom Body and Equipment Company.)

The Van Wert (OH) Fire Department had Braun Industries build this Type 1 ambulance with Whelen LED exterior lighting, including a Pioneer scene light in the center of the module on each side.

6 The Van Wert (OH) Fire Department had Braun Industries build this Type 1 ambulance with Whelen LED exterior lighting, including a Pioneer scene light in the center of the module on each side. (Photo courtesy of Braun Industries Inc.)

Wheeled Coach built this Type 1 ambulance with its CoolBar shroud over the air-conditioning condenser, with LED lighting mounted on the front and angled sides of the shroud.

7 Wheeled Coach built this Type 1 ambulance with its CoolBar shroud over the air-conditioning condenser, with LED lighting mounted on the front and angled sides of the shroud. (Photo courtesy of Wheeled Coach.)

Life Line Emergency Vehicles built this Type 1 ambulance as a demo, showcasing an array of LED lighting along the front and sides of the patient module.

8 Life Line Emergency Vehicles built this Type 1 ambulance as a demo, showcasing an array of LED lighting along the front and sides of the patient module. (Photo courtesy of Life Line Emergency Vehicles.)

Daniel McLaughlin, director of sales at Wheeled Coach, says Wheeled Coach makes the CoolBar on the front of the body of an ambulance. “It’s a shroud over the air-conditioning condenser, and the rig’s lighting is mounted on the exterior of the shroud,” McLaughlin says. “The front and side lights are placed on a 45-degree angle, and there are two lights, one on each side of the box as well.”

Wheeled Coach also offers angled lights on the rears of ambulances. “Instead of rectangular lights, we use LED strip lighting to signal stop, turn, and emergency lights, which allows us to customize a combination for the customer,” McLaughlin notes. “With side lighting, one of our iconic features is an amber corner cap light that can be seen from all angles and also overhead from a rescue helicopter.”

Jake Spiegel, engineering R&D director for Life Line Emergency Vehicles, says, “For Life Line, it’s all about customer preference, what the customer wants on their ambulance. Some departments are choosing to add more and brighter LED lighting to their rigs, and others are choosing a flash pattern that fits their department’s needs.”


ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Editorial Advisory Board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.

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