7 Best Flashlights & Helmet Lights for Firefighters


Best Flashlights and Helmet Lights for Firefighters - FirefighterNOW

A flashlight is a tool that many of us might take for granted. However, firefighters know that a flashlight is far more important in their day-to-day lives. 

They light the way in emergencies to locate those at risk in the night, help us find our way through the darkness in building and accident scenes at night. They are a second pair of eyes, which is why it is crucial that we have a flashlight that is up to the task.

Short on time? Don’t feel like reading? No problem! Here’s my two personal favorites and what I use on my own gear…

Sale
Streamlight 90540 Survivor LED Right Angle Flashlight, Orange - 175 Lumens
  • Rubber dome push button switch easy to use with gloves
  • Dual power source: Rechargeable NiCd battery; also accepts 4 “AA” alkaline batteries
  • C4 LED with high, low, emergency flash and moonlight modes
  • High for a super bright beam that pierces through smoke: 41,000 candela; 175 lumens; 405m beam distance; runs 3.5 hours (NiCd); runs 4 hours (alkaline)
  • Low for bright light and longer run time: 14,000 candela; 60 lumens; 237m beam distance; runs 13 hours (NiCd); runs 15 hours (alkaline)
Sale
Streamlight 69140 Vantage LED Tactical Helmet Mounted Flashlight, Black
  • Rotates 360 degrees on clamp; Bright blue tail light LED
  • On/off switch operates with heavy gloves on; Attach or remove in seconds with no tools
  • Clamps on above or below helmet brim; Bulb: LED; Finish: Matte Black
  • Output (lumens): 115; Power Source: CR123A Lithium, x 2; Switch: Dual-Direction On/Off Switch

Last update on 2020-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

In this guide, I have provided some honest reviews of flashlights that I believe make the cut. The list is split into two halves – standard flashlights and helmet lights.

In each case, I have highlighted my own personal recommendation before including some additional products with their own pros and cons. 

Before that, I want to talk a little more about the importance of a good helmet light and flashlight in this industry and some of the features that you need to look out for.

Why do you need a high powered flashlight when working as a firefighter?

Your run-of-the-mill flashlight at home isn’t going to cut it out in an emergency. There is no guarantee that it will have the range that you need to seek out obstacles and victims in dark, smoke-filled buildings or across remote forests at night. 

It might not have the battery power to provide a strong light source for the duration of the emergency – although this is true of some of the models below too. 

It won’t have the same settings or any specific considerations for those that work in the fire service. That is why it is important to find something geared towards the industry.

The first option for firefighters is to get something similar to a traditional flashlight, just with better performance. There are lots of hand-held models that have a similar approach to normal models but are a little more powerful, designed to be used with gloves or have some other benefits. 

These flashlights should be a familiar, effective piece of equipment that helps you out in dark situations. You can carry them in your pocket, shine them in front of you to create a path in the smoke and become more visible to other people.

Why are helmet lights such a good idea for firefighters?

One of the downsides of choosing a more traditional-looking flashlight is that you do have to hold on to it at all times to point it in the right direction (unless of course you attach it to your turnout gear). 

There is great freedom of movement and you can angle it in all directions, but this doesn’t work if you have your hands full. 

A helmet flashlight lets you mount a light to your head for a constant beam and hands-free operation. 

You can then enjoy that constant illumination as you work on tying knots, hauling equipment or performing first aid or other intricate tasks.

Important features when buying a flashlight for firefighters.

The strength of the beam.

The direction of the light is as important as the strength of the beam. Do you get a strong, thin beam that highlights the areas ahead of you or something a bit wider with less reach? 

Is there any way of changing the intensity of the light depending on the situation. High-strength beams are helpful but we don’t need them the whole time. 

It helps to save battery and create a better illumination where we can. Strong lights are great for finding a path through a structure but not necessary when dealing with victims.

The quality of the light source.

LED lights are the best approach because the lights are so much brighter, longer-lasting and more reliable. 

One thing to look out for when choosing a light is a model with green LEDs as well as white. Green LEDs are said to improve visibility and color perception when working in a smoke-filled environment. 

This can make a big difference when dealing with structures and rescuing victims. The quality of the LEDs is also important. At this professional level, there should be absolutely no risk of flickering or inconsistencies in the brightness of the LED.

The battery life.

What type of batteries are used and are they included with the flashlight? 

There are typically two choices here. You could opt for a model that takes normal, accessible AA batteries and keep swapping them out or go for something with a rechargeable battery. 

Each option has its pros and cons in this line of work. Sometimes you can find products that offer both so you can switch between them as needed. 

Either way, check the specification to learn more about the battery life. How long is it expected to last and how does this change between different light settings?

The casing.

What would happen if you dropped your flashlight on the ground in a building while struggling through? 

Nothing should happen because the best firefighter flashlights are impact resistant. There is also fire and heat resistance to remain intact and reliable no matter the situation. 

Check the materials and certification for a product before buying. 

Impact resistance also applies to the lens of the light. It should be clear and scratch-proof. While looking at the casing for the light, you might also consider the color. 

A brighter color is easier to locate in a gear bag or on the ground than some “tactical” black models. 

The build of the helmet – if you prefer the idea of a helmet light and know that this will be more effective, the same considerations apply. – fireproof materials in the heat of the fire, impact resistance.

Ease of use.

Ease of use is something that some flashlight brands can overlook. They don’t always consider the fact that we need to change the settings and attach helmet lights with gloves on. 

Small, intricate buttons aren’t going to work. Tool-free assembly for helmet lights is also essential so you can attach it with ease in difficult situations.

Additional settings

Once you find a series of flashlights that you know have the right beams and built to be of use to firefighters, you need to consider some additional settings that may be helpful. 

Some of the cheaper, more basic lights will have a single front-facing beam that is either on or off. Others will go further with settings with emergency flashes or different colored lights. 

Some will even have a blue tail light behind that lets other crew members locate you and follow you in the darkness. Just make sure that each setting is easy to operate in an emergency and that it doesn’t deplete the battery too much.

The cost.

Finally, you need to consider the cost of the flashlight. While you want something that will last and hold up to damage, you have to be prepared for the fact that you might lose the light. 

You might drop it into a space from which it can’t be retrieved, place it under too much pressure or see some other department walk off with it because it is so nice. 

Work within a realistic budget and don’t get something that is a waste if you lose the light. At the same time, don’t go too cheap and compromise on quality.

Streamlight 90540 Survivor LED Right Angle Flashlight

Sale
Streamlight 90540 Survivor LED Right Angle Flashlight, Orange - 175 Lumens
  • Rubber dome push button switch easy to use with gloves
  • Dual power source: Rechargeable NiCd battery; also accepts 4 “AA” alkaline batteries
  • C4 LED with high, low, emergency flash and moonlight modes
  • High for a super bright beam that pierces through smoke: 41,000 candela; 175 lumens; 405m beam distance; runs 3.5 hours (NiCd); runs 4 hours (alkaline)
  • Low for bright light and longer run time: 14,000 candela; 60 lumens; 237m beam distance; runs 13 hours (NiCd); runs 15 hours (alkaline)

Last update on 2020-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The first model that I want to discuss here is this one from Streamlight. This is the one that I would personally recommend if you want a “normal” type of flashlight because of the features and the quality of the beam.

This model doesn’t look exactly like your traditional flashlight, unlike some of the others below. Instead, it has a lot of details and design features where Streamlight has obviously considered the needs of firefighters. 

This includes the use of a rubber dome button for the power supply which is ideal for use with gloves. We also get a choice of power sources with either rechargeable NiCd or 4 AA batteries. 

This means that you can swap out the batteries as needed and choose the style that is most practical at that moment. If you haven’t had a chance to recharge the batteries then you have that safety net of the AA batteries.

Another thing that I like about this model is that there are different modes on the beam. You can switch from a high to low beam and use emergency flash and moonlight settings. 

There is also the promise that the light will pierce through the smoke with the 41,000 candela/175 lumens high beam. 

For comparison, the low light beam is 14,000 candela and 60 lumens. There is also an impact-resistant case that comes in bright orange or yellow so it is easy to find.

One downside to be aware of here is that the battery life drops considerably when using this on the higher beam. You do have the choice to make that switch between the settings as needed. 

However, the difference can be dramatic and could leave you without a light if you are not careful. You can get 3.5 hours of life on the NiCd battery and 4 hours on the alkaline when using the high beam. 

On the low beam, this increased to 13 hours and 15 hours respectively. It might be worth taking a spare battery because the high beam is so powerful and helpful to many firefighters.

Pros:

  • The user-friendly features for simple operation
  • The choice of batteries
  • The choice of beams and settings

Cons:

  • The drop in battery life on the high beam

Streamlight Vantage 180 X

Streamlight Vantage 180 X
  • 3-in-one light: Helmet Mounted, Right-Angle Light, Handheld Flashlight,180º rotating head (for right-angle use) and Turnout gear/radio strap attachment hook
  • Ultra-bright blue rear light for helmet mount use in heavy smoke or a white safety flood down light mode when head is rotated 90 degrees towards push button
  • Integrated Stainless Steel Clip is designed to be used with the “quick release” helmet bracket that easily detaches the light from the helmet for use as a handheld or pocket light. The light also features a clip to attach to turnout gear. Body: High-impact, “super-tough” nylon chemically-resistant engineering polymer for exceptional durability and a sure grip. Lens: Unbreakable poly-carbonate lens with a silicone anti-scratch coating. O-ring sealed
  • Vantage 180 X USB is a complete rechargeable system that includes an 18650 USB battery with an integrated USB charge port
  • Includes Helmet Bracket & 2 CR123A Lithium. Turnout gear attachment hook, head articulates 180-degree to aim the beam. Waterproof to 1M for 30 minutes, 1M impact resistance tested

Last update on 2020-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

There is a clear USP with this Vantage 180 model that I can see the appeal of in the firefighting service. This product has a feature in the head of the light that means that it can adjust from the normal straight angle to a 180-degree angle. 

This means that you can point the light towards the floor or find ways of mounting it with the best coverage of light. 

This is the additional selling point here. 

Unlike some flashlights that are purely to be used by hand, this one is mountable with the gear attachment hook.

The light source on this flashlight is pretty good with both a strong white light and blue rear light. The promise is that this will improve visibility in smoke and most users are happy with the impact on their work.

Another benefit here is the fact that this is such a tough product. 

The flashlight is waterproof up to 1 meter and made from a “super tough” nylon that is designed to withstand high impacts. 

Therefore, if you drop it on-scene or it does come off your helmet, it shouldn’t incur any damage. 

Many firefighters will also appreciate the quick release system on the helmet mount for added ease of use. Those that don’t want to use it this way can use the steel pocket clip instead.

There is clearly a lot of versatility to this product for use in different situations. 

However, this does also mean that there is a lot to think about when using the different strength beams. 

For example, users need to be aware that the light is set to change when you adjust the angle. It starts off as the bright blue light for visibility at the normal angle and then switches to a white LED safety floodlight when at that 90-degree angle. 

This creates a downward facing beam to help you see around your feet. So, this could mean that you don’t get the light source you need when mounting the light a certain way on helmets or equipment.

Pros:

  • A 180-degree articulation for different angles
  • Easy to mount onto helmets if needed
  • A tough casing

Cons:

  • The change in light based on the angle of the device

Streamlight 88854 PolyTac LED Helmet Lightning Kit

Sale
Streamlight 88854 PolyTac LED Helmet Lightning Kit, Yellow - 275 Lumens
  • Includes PolyTac LED flashlight, lithium batteries, Streamlight Helmet Mount and Rubber Helmet Strap
  • Flashlight case made from high impact, super tough nylon polymer for exceptional durability and a sure grip
  • Borofloat glass lens, o-ring sealed
  • C4 LED technology, impervious to shock with a 50,000 hour lifetime
  • Tailcap push button provides one handed momentary or constant on operation

Last update on 2020-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This next Streamlight model is always going to catch the eye of firefighters because of the words “helmet kit”. 

This means that there is a dedicated piece of equipment in the box that will allow us to attach this to our helmets for hands-free use. 

But, we still have the benefit of the more traditional approach because of the fairly classic design. This should mean that this a more versatile option for different jobs.

There is quite a lot in the box for the price as you get the flashlight with its LED bulb, the helmet mounting kit, a rubber helmet strap and the lithium batteries. 

The light source is pretty straightforward with a decent beam of light and the choice of either a momentary or constant operation. Another feature I like is the use of the one-handed push button power system for ease of use.

This is another flashlight that is meant to last. We have a case that is made from a high-impact nylon so it should hold up to being dropped on hard surfaces. 

The LED bulb is also meant to be shockproof for a more consistent stream of light. There is also the tough lens and strong seals around it so everything is secure at all times.

There are two issues with this light that let it down a little compared to some of the other lights in this guide. 

The first is the fact that it isn’t that easy to mount the torch to a helmet. Some of these adaptable models clip onto a helmet with ease to provide that secure light source. 

Here it clips to the side and can unbalance a helmet a little if users aren’t careful. There are also users that say that the light isn’t as bright as they had hoped.

Pros:

  • The additional features to make this a more versatile option than some standard flashlights
  • The user-friendly operation with the design of the power button
  • The shock proofing across the different components

Cons:

  • Not as easy to mount to a helmet as some other flashlights

Streamlight 68201 4AA ProPolymer LED Flashlight with White LEDs

Streamlight 68201 4AA ProPolymer LED Flashlight with White LEDs, Yellow - 67 Lumens
  • Virtually indestructible, non-conductive polymer with a scratch-resistant face-cap; impact & shock-resistant
  • Lens: Unbreakable polycarbonate with scratch-resistant coating
  • Clamps on above or below helmet brim; Bulb: LED;
  • Output (lumens): 115; Power Source: CR123A Lithium, x 2; Switch: Dual-Direction On/Off Switch
  • Finish: Matte Black

Last update on 2020-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

There are some nice features on this flashlight that are familiar after looking at the products above. 

There are some user-friendly features like the dual-direction switch, the AA batteries and the light weight. 

The battery life is said to be 155 hours on one set, but this might be optimistic. Just make sure to choose the version that actually has the batteries included in the box. 

The switch should be easier to use for those that have struggled with flashlights that have tiny buttons on them. Sliding switches are so much easier in gloves!

There is also the promise of a tough build with the impact resistant non-conductive materials and scratch-proof lens coating. What this should mean is that you get a product that will be safe to use in almost any situation. 

There is also a choice of modes where you can have a constant or blinking stream of light as required. 

The light source is only 67 lumen but there is the promise of a super-bright LED that lasts for 100,000 hours before it needs to be replaced.

There are some features here where this does seem to be aimed at our market as there are additional clamps in the box so that we can attach this light to our helmets if we want to.

There are users that say that the beam is strong and reliable. However, I suspect that many feel that it is good for the price paid and might notice a weakness and lack of function after paying out for something a bit more intense. 

This is a cheap model that will do a decent job temporarily in some situations. It isn’t the ideal choice for regular use in emergencies.

Pros:

  • The number of protective features to ensure that users get a tough flashlight
  • The promise of a long battery life
  • Different settings on the light beam

Cons:

  • Weaker than some of the brighter, more robust lights out there.

Streamlight 69140 Vantage LED Tactical Helmet Mounted Flashlight

Sale
Streamlight 69140 Vantage LED Tactical Helmet Mounted Flashlight, Black
  • Rotates 360 degrees on clamp; Bright blue tail light LED
  • On/off switch operates with heavy gloves on; Attach or remove in seconds with no tools
  • Clamps on above or below helmet brim; Bulb: LED; Finish: Matte Black
  • Output (lumens): 115; Power Source: CR123A Lithium, x 2; Switch: Dual-Direction On/Off Switch

Last update on 2020-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The first of these top firefighter helmet flashlights is the one that I personally recommend and also happens to be an Amazon’s Choice product. 

This model stands out because it looks like a rugged, professional model right from the start. There is a traditional looking flashlight that mounts onto a helmet with a large clamp system. 

It will stay in place and is tough enough to take a knock while handling a fire. This is where this sort of light is better than some of the clip-on flashlights above. You can put this central on the brim and not weigh down the helmet on one side or risk an accident with the light.

The light is bright LED light from a Lithium power source for bright illumination on-scene. There is also a blue tail light. This “tactical” model looks the part but also has the added advantages of some helpful features for users. 

This includes the simple, tool-free process of attaching it to the helmet and the fact that you can press all the buttons with gloves on.

Another interesting feature of this helmet lamp is the way that it rotates on the clamp 360 degrees. 

This improves visibility when you don’t have the flexibility to move around. It may also help those working behind you. The small profile helps too as it is less likely to be knocked out of place or off the helmet entirely.

Even though I have included this as my recommended product, I have to admit that it is not perfect. There are other helmet lights that have light sources and LED colors that may prove to be more effective in a dark environment or over long distances. 

Some of the other top helmet flashlights for firefighters are a little cheaper too. However, it is that balance of the user-friendly design and structural integrity that allows it to take the top position.

Pros:

  • Great visibility with the white light and the blue tail light
  • The chance to rotate the light 360 degrees
  • Easy to mount onto the helmet. 

Cons:

  • The use of LEDs isn’t as impressive as some of the helmet lights

Streamlight Vantage II Helmet Light

Streamlight 69331 Vantage II 350 Lumen Helmet Mount Flashlight
  • Attaches securely to helmet, above or below rim in seconds; large easy off switch located on rear of light
  • High: 350 Lumens, low; 135 lumens
  • Safe off feature prevents accidental activation, saves batteries; Uses one CR123A lithium battery, included
  • Meets requirements of NFPA 1971-56 (2013)
  • IPX 7 waterproof to 1M for 30 minutes; 1M impact resistance tested

Last update on 2020-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

On first impressions, this helmet flashlight looks very similar to the one above. There aren’t too many differences here between the Tactical model I recommended and this one. There are still lots of users that appreciate the design of this one where it has the same features. 

For example, the design is just as slim so there is the same small profile for ease of use in tight spots. There is also the same approach to the style of the buttons and the use of fire-resistant and impact resistant materials.

A positive thing about this flashlight is that, like the flashlight I use on my helmet, there are two different beams to choose from. 

You can have a high beam of 3500 candela and 350 lumens or a low one of 1700 candela and 135 lumens. 

Again, there is a notable difference between the two. 

The high beam is great for a longer reach of 118m. However, the battery life does drop to 2.25hours on this mode. The safety feature for accidental activation can help here. There is also the blue tail light to help those behind you.

However, there are two factors here that mean that it doesn’t quite match up to the Tactical model. 

The first is the light source itself. This one uses a bright light with strong peripheral visibility to illuminate the area around firefighters. Many like the brightness and the settings and get on well with it. But, it doesn’t have the same intensity. It also doesn’t have that 360 degree rotation that was so beneficial in the previous model. 

There are also some users that have struggled with the size of the screw on the clamp and the casing for the battery. This might explain why the screw on the Tactical model’s clamp is so large. 

This doesn’t mean that this is a bad product. 

Lots of users are able to work with ease and get the illumination they need. It just lacks some of the benefits.

Pros:

  • A choice of beams for high and low settings
  • A safety feature to improve the battery life
  • The impact and fire resistance of the casing

Cons:

  • The clamp on this one isn’t as good as the model above

FoxFury 420-L06 Command+ LoPro

FoxFury 420-L06 Command+ LoPro White/Green LED Fire and Impact Resistant Waterproof Helmet Light, 100 Lumens
  • 100 lumen helmet light runs up to 14 hours on four AA batteries. 3 modes: high, medium and low to provide the optimal light intensity
  • Constructed from high quality nylon and polycarbonate this light is fire resistant up to 300F/149C (NFPA 1971-8.6 (2013)), impact resistant and waterproof to 3 meters
  • The wide angle beam provides panoramic lighting with a wider field of view compared to traditional headlamp's single beam. White and green LEDs offers improved depth perception, color rendition and smoke cutting ability (as compared to white light only)
  • Ultra-slim helmet light designed for use on firefighter helmets that utilize external face shields. Enables most external 4” and 6” face shields to be raised and lowered without interference. Not compatible with European (Gallet) style helmets
  • Also features a highly visible red flashing LED in the rear battery pack that can be seen from over 1 mile away for added safety

Last update on 2020-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

There are two things that stand out about this model from FoxFury. 

The first is that there are both white and green LED lights within the light source for improved visibility and perception of color. This should mean that firefighters can access victims and handle fires with greater ease. 

Then there is the fire-resistant construction of the helmet. This model is designed to be tough with the resistance to the heat and damage of the flames and impact resistance. 

This, along with the 14 hour battery life, increases the reliability of the helmet light in long rescue missions in dangerous situations.

The design is also nice as the slim light doesn’t obstruct the movement of the face shield in any way. 

Additional features here include the flashing red LED light with a visibility range of 1 mile – this can help other firefighters or victims locate you in dark conditions. 

The version of this helmet lamp that I have mentioned here is pretty affordable at just under $100.

There is another version that’s more expensive that has a rechargeable system instead of the use of AA batteries. 

You might feel that this is worth the extra cost as it removes the need to have AA batteries on hand. On the other hand, you might feel that rechargeable models are too much hassle.

Most user comments are favorable with many users impressed with the light source and the ease of use of this lighter model. 

However, some note that the batteries can seem a little loose and the power button is a bit small. 

This is a shame when we have seen what can be done with those larger, rubber-coated buttons that are so perfect for use with our gloves. With some extra thought and attention to detail, this could be a better option.

Pros:

  • The use of the green LEDs to cut through the smoke
  • The heat and impact resistance of the casing
  • A long battery life

Cons:

  • Not as user-friendly in its design as some of the products here.

How to choose the best flashlight for firefighters 

One thing that you will notice with these flashlights is that while the majority of the best models come from the same brand, there are variations in quality in function across the range. 

You can find some cheap and basic Streamlight products that are fine in some situations but don’t match up to the top brands. Pay a little more for something with a choice of settings or greater ease of use and you can have a better experience while out on calls.

I believe that my personal recommendations for the flashlight and helmet light are the best choices because of their features and reliability. 

But, you may have other priorities for your duties. 

As long as the flashlight is powerful enough for your needs, easy to use and durable enough to handle fires and damage, you should be OK. Take your time to compare the different options available within your budget.

Looking for more gear guides? Checkout some of my other guides here…

Best Multi Tools for Firefighters

5 Great Watches for EMTs and Firefighters

Best Boots for Firefighters

Recent Content