That was a good post, timjmayer
. Short and to the point.
I can tell you've been there and done that. As have I.
I'm not sure if there is any standard about what lights most North American firefighters can use. The firefighter that complained about rubber/plastic metal in a fire sounds like a probie/newbie. Tell him to look at the amount of plastic on/in his helmet and SCBA ... including, of course, the front face plate. Here's a rule, if that plastic is melting, you are in a wholelotta
trouble and you need to get out ASAP! Melted spots on flashlight bodies and the occasional distorted lenses end up being pretty low on your list of concerns!
Most firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers ... "vollies" ... and I bet the rules and regs still vary greatly from company to company (or district to district) as to what gear they are issue and allowed, including lights. This was certainly true when I served. No one had anything to say about what I chose for my helmet ... or how it was mounted.
It's been about a dozen years since I've donned my turnout gear. When I did, I wore a pair of 2AA Minimags. If I had it to do over again, I might use the same (or similar) set-up. They weren't too expensive, they were incans that won't throw a lot of glare back into my eyes, they were fairly durable, waterproof, etc ... I might be interested in a 2 x CR123 xenon light like the Brinkmann Max-Fire ... but I'd have to re-examine the lights water-proof rating and o-ring configuration. I have a couple, slightly older Garrity 2AA xenon lights that might also be good choices. My #1 complaint about the Minimag is the lousy krypton bulb.
Another thing, when you get in a room with a lot of black smoke, even our large, rechargeable streamlight lanterns wouldn't penetrate very far. I used the two lights on my helmet to help with cold searches (little or no smoke present) and to see what I had my hands on ... not much more than that.
You have to be realistic about what the light can do and what you really want to use it for. It's easy to get caught up in the quest for the perfect flashlight, but honestly, having the ultimate light (toy) doesn't help get the job done ... and as timjmayer
said, who wants to be worrying about a $100+ light in the mess and chaos that is the fireground?
Real firefighter veterans remember when the Garrity disposable light was one of the most popular with firefighters, especially the paid guys, and the preferred way to secure it to your helmet was a strip (loop) of rubber off an old pull-up boot ... the type of boots that aren't really used anymore.
The other firefighter light old-timers used to use was a metal 2D incan, slide switch on the body with a head turned 90 degrees and a black-spot in the center of the lens to reduce reflected glare to the user. I'm a little embarassed that I even remember lights like that.