BLF firefighter flashlight?

I’ve seen some different BLF lights and bought a couple Q8s, but am wondering about how the designs come about.

I’m wondering about a light for firefighters. (I’ve been one for over 33 years) The BLF Q8 is great for me as I don’t actually get to actually fight the fires any more. I’m outside as either Command or Safety. The guys who still go inside don’t tend to have very good lights and they pay way too much for the offerings that are available through safety supply outlets.

It would need to be bright, rugged and waterproof for a start. It would be great if it could be mounted on and taken off a helmet fairly easily. The switch would need to be done so that it couldn’t be easily bumped and turned off.

I don’t know what makes you technical guys tick, but this might be a fun challenge with a fairly good sized market.


First of all, welcome to BLF and thank you for your service!

Do you have any specific requirements on the job - are there codes, regulations, detailed needs for weight, runtime, technical ratings, … for safety equipment ?
I can imagine that devices used in dangerous environments (dust, gas, flames, …) have to be developed, tested and manufactured differently than regular consumer lights.

Not saying nothing will be a fit, just asking to make sure it will be exactly what’s needed.

I'm not familiar with mounts, but the Convoy C8 XPL HI LED is a medium size powerful light-

It should be waterproof, but I am not sure if it is--> [Waterproof Standard: IPX-8 Standard Waterproof (Underwater 2m)]

You can contact the seller at Convoy Flashlights (Simon)....after you login, you'll see a 'contact seller' option-

Funny you brought it up.
As I am becoming a FF I’ve thought about a light for the job. After using the current light they use, the streamlight survivor I wouldn’t know how to improve it or make something better.

But this is in the Netherlands.

As FPV asked, what are you looking for? Any particular requirements?

Since safety is my main function I can address this fairly easily.

There are very strict requirements for equipment to be intrinsically safe in very limited circumstances related to hazardous materials. Those situations are very specialized however so not a big deal. Think of the rest of it like this, if the environment is likely to explode, we don’t go there. We change the environment before we enter unless the circumstances are very specific.

Manufacturers may make some specialized lights for very specific cases but the vast majority of lights we buy are sold to municipalities by suppliers who oversell and over charge. We still have to buy very specific equipment for use in very specific applications. When they must do hazmat, everything changes including the radios and equipment. All the rest of our use is outside of this.

All that being said. My guys can buy whatever they want for firefighting. Our radios aren’t intrinsically safe so the lights don’t need to be either. As far as size and weight, mounting to a helmet limits both. The size of most of the 18650 single lights seems right give or take.

Our department has over 1000 members and many will buy their own lights. The ones we actually supply are dull and awkward. Fire Vulcan® LED | Firefighting Rechargeable Lantern | Streamlight®

We will supply conventional batteries AAA through D for free but I think rechargeable is the way to go. A light with a magnetic charger makes sense to me. Run time doesn’t need to be extreme as we generally win quickly or stay outside of the building. A couple hours is most of what we would work our crews. (The work is very intense.) I would think 1500-2600 lumens would be plenty with a throw type beam (Which would penetrate smoke better.) Think of something which would be a little better in fog.

I don’t know if this is something that is possible, but I do know I have looked at a lot of lights and haven’t seen much that isn’t either crazy expensive or crazy dull.

Just a thought.

I don’t have any experience in the field, but things thaat come to mind immediately are

1 extremely waterproof, able to withstand a blast from the high pressure hoses

2 large switch, for operating with heavy gloves.

3 aggressive knurling for holding with wet gloves.

4 No rubber parts, especially on the switch, must be able to withstand heat, silicon might be ok.

5 Not black!

6 Glass that can take a knock, and a stainless steel bezel projecting enough to protect the lens

7 A neutral tint that will not glare back from smoke and blind the user.

That makes it a lot easier.
So do you want it to be helmet mount (tube style type) or chest mount (right angle type)?

A couple of thoughts:

Rechargeable is the way to go, no question. Possible compatibility with regular cells but that would be too complicated.
I’m thinking about the new 21700 cells. They add a lot of capacity compared to 18650’s.

1500 - 2600 lumens is a lot, you sure you need that much? Especially in a focused throw beam? (Intensity will be very high) I’m thinking around 500 lumens will be plenty. (with a 1000 lumen turbo?)
1500 lumens or more does also mean it needs a xhp led. That would require at least 6 volts or 12 volts.

Driving a led high enough to produce 1500 or more lumens produces a lot of heat and requires adequate heatsinking.
Since there is already enough heat in a fire situation heatsinking is a big problem.
That’s why I don’t think a aluminium body is a good idea. It would heat up from the surrounding heat sources and transfer that back to the led resulting in reduced efficiency and lifetime.

A plastic body is better as it conducts heat very bad. However that will then be a problem for the led.
So a decent aluminum heatsink inside a plastic body is, imo, the best solution.

As heat is the biggest problem here a current controlled driver with temperature control is a must to protect the led.

Optic or reflector? Not really a question in my mind. If you want the best throw in a small size there is only one solution, a optic.

You should look at something like the nitecore EF1 or the Foxfury lights. You will pay a premium for sure

The reality is that if it’s too hot for the light to survive, the face shield in the breathing apparatus will have already failed.

Have you considered a diving light like an Ultrafire DV-S9? 26650 cell and lots of runtime, meant for diving, so it’s definitely gonna be waterproof.

Magnetic slider switch (slot, small plastic piece with magnet inside), and continuously adjustable from off to 100%. You can “swat” the slider even with gloves to whack it on/off if you’re not terribly interested in intermediate brightness levels.

The whole light is essentially sealed, 3 O-rings on the tailcap, and the front is probably glued shut (never tried opening it). No discrete switch for water/dust ingress at all.

You can use spacer rings/sleeve to use an 18650 instead of a 26650 if weight would be an issue.

See Ultrafire DV-S9 diving light? for my first impressions of the light.

Can’t do chest mount as it would interfere with the straps on the breathing apparatus.

I’m certainly no expert so that was a guess. I have a couple of cheaper zoomable lights that were rated at 1500 lumens and that seemed about right, but I have since learned that ratings aren’t usually real unless it’s a name brand light. I defer to the experts here. Good penetration would be needed though. Smoke can get damned thick.

Heat is an issue no doubt, but remember we can only deal with high heat for a short time or our equipment will fail and we won’t survive. Being unable to see is often more of a problem than the heat. Over 300 degrees Fahrenheit we’re talking a couple minutes.

For reference they are doing less than half of the rated lumens.

Bwoopff…! That price, and those 5mm LEDs…

Jesus!! The prices on those Foxfury… everythings.

Talk about getting raped…

If I was a firefighter I would slap an Armytek on my helmet and call it a day.

The problem with a BFL firefither light is what are you using it for? Scene light? helmet? coat? back up? search? outside safety? command? There are so many possible use cases that you would have to make a dozen different lights and you still would not cover all possible uses.

As to the lithium batteries in the heat… It destroys everything, but a lithium cell is still far better than anything else we could use. Our old hand lights used lead acid batteries from a UPS like you use for a computer back up. They were heavy, weak and didnt last that long. Lithium is far lighter for the amount of power and output.

I have had everything from headlamps to cheap 800lumen lights and the best I have used is the Streamlight vantage led. Its about 100 bucks and the size is perfect. The switch on the back is very easy to use and the batteries seem to last for a long time. In my experience if the light is too bright it will white everything out in a fire and all you will see is smoke, like turning on your high beams in the fog.

I have a light on my coat (energizer hardcase, cheap and perfect for patient care at MVAs while not being bulky), coat pocket (surefire bored to 18650 w 500lm drop in), Olight m2r in my bunker pants and a Klarus Mi7 on my duty pants. I have a light on every piece of clothing or turnout gear because I may wear one or all of them depending on the weather and the call. I also carry a Klarus xt12gt in my bug out bag (where I keep misc tools, spare gloves, hood, trim removal tool, wrenches and extra 123a primaries) and a convoy L6 in the cab for lighting up anything and everything at night.

We have streamlight vulcans on the trucks, they work well and are reliable but don’t have to wow effect I desire. I love the streamlight portable scene light, but it too expensive for a impulse buy and not practical.

The light I would like to see is something like the streamlight vantage with an updated emitter and multistage brightness. The switch on the back can move 1 click left or right to turn on. I would love to see it go to a 2nd click and give you 250 or 500 lumens for a short period of time.

I am seeing good review about these two flashlights. Streamlight 69140 Vantage LED Tactical Helmet Mounted Flashlight and Streamlight 90503 Survivor LED Flashlight. You can take a look if those can fill your criteria. But, for the firefighter you can also try fenix hl60r headlamp Fenix hl60r review 2023: Rechargeable Headlamp. I guess this will match with your work perfectly.

I could be talking out of my ’arse as a layman— but 2 criteria I can imagine

1- The comment about ArmyTek rings true for me— not because of the brand—
but because the ArmyTek light I have is POTTED. Dunno how potting affects
heat transfer, but I would imagine it would help greatly to add durability by
keeping components in place during drops and such.

2- I remember Forum discussions with Law Enforcement personnel about the evolution
of duty lights— and one criteria was that the beam be moderately wide— so that
when entering an enclosed area— the officer could obtain a good visual survey without
the need to sweep the light across the room.

Food for thought

Hmmm… I could be way off here, but would a warmer color temperature, say 3000K, help a firefighter see through the smoke better? And would a higher CRI be helpful?

At my work they are using Nitecore EF1, which is ATEX and EX, extremely sturdy, the wall of the tube is 3 mm thick alu. and lens is 10 mm thick epoxy.