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Thread: A Firefighter question?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic lukevsdarth's Avatar
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    Thinking A Firefighter question?

    I have a friend well a co-worker that blabs on that a Xenon based flashlight is better use in a fire and smoke situation than an LED. Any truth in that. Yet he also freaks out that my MC-E 500+ lumens handheld is damnbright. He has taken my (borrowed) MC-E light to do perimeter checks and inists its nothing he has ever seem as far as portable bright. Would any fireman know if 500+ lumens would cut through smoke?

    [SIGPIC]It is better to have it and not need it , than to need and not have it.

  2. #2

    Default Re: A Firefighter question?

    Its been discussed many times that the higher frequency (shorter) wavelengths of the LED lights that are mostly in the blue range light up the smoke rather than cut through it. "White" LED lights are mostly a blue peak with some green and yellow made with phosphors so you see "white" but its mostly blue. Incandescent lights are mostly in the yellow down to the infrared and the longer wavelengths definitely are better for going through the smoke rather than lighting it up.

    The easy answer is to get him the MC-E Warm version which has a much better color spectrum more into the red and far less of a blue peak. However those are "flood" lights, mostly If you want something with more throw than the Malkoff M60-warm at over 200 lumens will be more of a balance of some throw with good spill but not over 400 lumens worth. The MC-E Warm by Malkoff starts off over 400 lumens but settles in above 350 to 375 when it warms up but it has a wonderful beam tint. It will still draw literally half the current as an incandescent that won't put out that much light. Something in the 300 lumen range from an incandescent will draw twice as much power in watts as that Malkoff MC-E.

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    Flashaholic guardpost3's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Firefighter question?

    well im not sure about the wavelenth stuff, tho it makes sense. but i have been a firefighter for 7 years now and can tell you from experience that i have yet to find an LED that works as well as an incan on the fireground. i have three lights that i use regularly on the fireground, a streamlight litebox that we have on all the trucks, a streamlight survivor incan strapped to my chest, and a streamlight vantage LED on my helmet. the vantage is great but as soon as i go interior, i switch to the survivor, wich has almost no spill at all wich i think is why it works so good. the vantage works really well for working on ladders and hoselines outside. i have yet to try a warm tint LED (becuase i dont have one). i have also not tried the new recoil LEDs from pelican, or the new streamlight survivor LED tho i have heard they are good at cutting thru smoke. as for the 500+ lumens thing, well i havent quite gotten there in my flashaholism... yet

  4. #4
    Flashaholic lukevsdarth's Avatar
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    Rolleye11 Re: A Firefighter question?

    Nice input i really wanted another firefighter's opinion and the technical part was interesting too.
    [SIGPIC]It is better to have it and not need it , than to need and not have it.

  5. #5
    *Flashaholic* Illum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire Light for Firemen

    Quote Originally Posted by lukevsdarth View Post

    I have a friend well a co-worker that blabs on that a Xenon based flashlight is better use in a fire and smoke situation than an LED. Any truth in that. Yet he also freaks out that my MC-E 500+ lumens handheld is damnbright. He has taken my (borrowed) MC-E light to do perimeter checks and inists its nothing he has ever seem as far as portable bright. Would any fireman know if 500+ lumens would cut through smoke?

    LEDs seem to have a tough time cutting through smoke...in a way LEDs illuminate the smoke better than anything else inside it.

    it also depends on the beam profile.
    If its all flood at a 60 degree angle, like a halogen accent fixture...5000 bulb lumens won't get you anywhere, but if the beam is collimated into a beam not unlike the surefire turbohead, you'd be surprised how much you can see with only 100 OTF lumens.

    I dunno how they simulate smoke so I try it by burning waste mulch with peat moss using waste oil as an accelerant...it smells horrible

  6. #6

    Default Re: Surefire Light for Firemen

    Quote Originally Posted by lukevsdarth View Post

    I have a friend well a co-worker that blabs on that a Xenon based flashlight is better use in a fire and smoke situation than an LED. Any truth in that. Yet he also freaks out that my MC-E 500+ lumens handheld is damnbright. He has taken my (borrowed) MC-E light to do perimeter checks and inists its nothing he has ever seem as far as portable bright. Would any fireman know if 500+ lumens would cut through smoke?

    Depends on the smoke. I've been in smoke in broad daylight on vegetation firs where little was visible more than a couple feet away.
    Position and beam also is an important factor. a narrow beam held away from the body is best. Held near and you get reflection back from the smoke (this applies to underwater and fog also) which hampers vision.
    Usually there is little control of this as the light will be on your head or jacket to let you do important things, like crawl.

    Smoke also absorbs light. The type of smoke determines what wavelengths and as far I as know not much has been done to determine what kind of light is best under "normal" fire fighting conditions.

    Recent new regulations mndate all new construction be fitted with sprinkler systems. If the government and insurance companies saw to it that all homes were retrofitted with them and the US fire service switched to Compressed Air Foam. This topic would be very academic in a few years.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: A Firefighter question?

    I was issued the new Streamlight Survivor LED recently and I've been anxious to see how it does in smoke. Haven't gotten the chance yet though. Its got an extremely tight beam, so it might be ok. I have a pelican incandescent as a backup, so that will be my comparison.

  8. #8
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    Default

    with an incan, 2/3 of the emitted light go into the reflector and thus focused into beam,
    a led pushes 100 % to the front, with a very good focusing device about 1/3 might get focused,
    so its at least double the light in spill with led,
    add the whiter light, illuminating the smoke stronger
    --> led "less useful"
    no magic.

    cut away spill and brightness + much less current need of the led gets the upper hand again
    but that is a very special use, right?

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