Scene Lighting Companies Say LEDs Are Here To Stay

If the display booths at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis were any indication, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have taken a firm hold in the fire service scene-lighting market.

Whelen has upgraded its LED scene lighting line with more products offering more lumens.
Whelen has upgraded its LED scene lighting line with more products offering more lumens.

Whelen Engineering jumped onto the LED bandwagon wholeheartedly last year and appeared even more firmly set in its path this year. The company added lumens to each of its Pioneer and Pioneer Plus LED models, as well as new spotlight and combination spotlight/floodlight models.

Regional Account Manager Wayne Lyons said LED scene lights have caught on beyond his wildest dreams, even in places like ladder trucks where LEDs were not previously seen. “We have a 120-volt version now for aerials,” Lyons said. “A lot of trucks already have 120 up there, so they are good to go.”
Fire Research Corporation (FRC) introduced LEDs this year, with a full line of scene-lighting options as well as a prototype called the Spectra. The Spectra generates 20,000 lumens, which the company says is the closest thing to natural sunlight currently on the market. Sales Representative John McLaughlin flipped a switch and excitedly pointed out how the Spectra light could be seen illuminating much of the area surrounding the FRC booth. No word yet when the Spectra will be available for purchase.

Many emergency scene lighting manufacturers make the structures that hold the lights, but do not make the lamps. Whelen and FRC make both, and their lamps are used by some of their competitors.

Whelen and FRC’s enthusiasm about LED technology has led some companies to move to LED-based products more quickly than previously anticipated. Last year, Marlin Nicol, lighting sales director for the Will-Burt Company, said his company would enter the LED market within a few years. But it happened much faster than he predicted.

This year at FDIC, Will-Burt exhibited Whelen-based and FRC-based LED Nightscan Chief light towers. The roof-mounted Nightscan Chief features automatic deployment, extending to 7.5 feet, depending on the model, and turns on and off instantly, thanks to the flexibility of the LED lamps.
“The LEDs are better lights now than the others available,” Nicol said. “They last longer, they are instant-on, and they last 20 to 30 thousand hours. About every six months we are seeing them brighter than they were before.”

The Nightscan Chiefs also include a camera option. “Fire departments want cameras for training,” Nicol said. “They also want to record what they do in case there’s any kind of legal issue or lawsuit.”
Havis Inc. is using Whelen lamps as well in its new LED pole packages. At FDIC, Havis showed Whelen’s 12 and 24 volt Pioneer floodlights atop its rugged aluminum pole mounting systems. Like Will-Burt, this was Havis’ first entry into the LED market.

Whelen lamps also made a first-time appearance in the Shadow and Shadow-RT models from Command Light, a division of Super Vacuum Manufacturing Company Inc.

“You gotta have LED now,” was the comment from Command Light President Roger Weinmeister as he stood at his FDIC booth. The Shadow models can be customized for arm length and lamp heads. They are meant to fit anything from a fire engine to a chief’s vehicle to a rescue van. The RT model can rotate nearly 360 degrees in either direction.

A Few Holdouts

 Despite the advancements in LED technology, there were still a few hold-outs at FDIC. Ventry Solutions (formerly J. Neils Enterprises) stuck to the tried-and-true with its basic “generator lights with legs” philosophy.

Ventry’s newest entry-level scene light at the show was a 650-watt fixed-light system, a “Hi-Infrared Halogen” light that sits atop a Honda generator. Shortly after FDIC closed, Ventry announced the fixed-light system would be manufactured with a 750-watt halogen bulb instead of the original 650-watt bulb due to General Electric’s withdrawal from that market.

In a similar vein, Traffic Safety System featured its Honda generator-based All Terrain Scene Light, which includes a 750-watt light head and a shoulder strap for carrying long distances.

With a molded plastic carrying handle and housing, the LED-based Smithlight by Golight made its debut at FDIC in April. The waterproof unit weighs just 15 pounds. It has adjustable heights and a rechargeable battery that lasts for 12 hours between charges.


The CTG Luminite can expand to 15 feet with 360 degrees of illumination. The CTG Luminite can expand to 15 feet with 360 degrees of illumination.

Makers of inflatable lights, previously limited to the road construction market, are now trying to make inroads into the fire service. At FDIC, Powermoon displayed weatherproof metal halide and halogen worklights with 360-degree scene coverage.
And CTG showed its inflatable Luminite light towers. Generator-powered and based on metal halide technology, the Luminite sets up quickly and comes to full light in under three minutes. “It will withstand up to 45 mile per hour winds,” company spokesman Rick Demke said. “It comes in a 7-foot or 15-foot length. It’s portable. It can be mounted on an apparatus and can be taken into a building, into a backyard, wherever you need it.”

The Will-Burt Nightscan Chief has an LED option and can also include a camera for recording incidents. The Will-Burt Nightscan Chief has an LED option and can also include a camera for recording incidents.

It can be laid on its side to send light over a cliff or embankment, according to Demke, who said the towers can also act as scene markers or command posts with the addition of customizable banners.

In the category of trailer-based scene lighting, Allmand Bros. Inc. displayed the Night Responder. It runs off a Kubota diesel generator and includes four metal halide lamps that extend up to 25 feet in the air.

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