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Exclusive: Streamlight’s legacy of light

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Donato Sasso, Director of International Business Development at Streamlight® Inc., looks at technical advancements and challenges in emergency lighting solutions

Streamlight® Inc., a company synonymous with resilience and innovation, marked its golden jubilee in 2023, with a remarkable journey beginning in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA – a starting point that set the stage for an evolutionary tale of a modest enterprise blossoming into a globally recognised manufacturer.

Since its inception in 1973, Streamlight has expanded geographically whilst continually broadening its technological horizons.

The company’s pioneering spirit is most notably reflected in its early and continuous embrace of rechargeable flashlights, lanterns, and LED lighting technology, utilised every single day by firefighters on the front lines.

This foresight has positioned Streamlight at the vanguard of the industry, leading with products characterised by exceptional brightness, durability, and practicality.

Today, Streamlight designs, manufactures, and markets a full line of flashlights, headlamps, lanterns, and accessories, which are sought after by users in the US and in over 90 countries worldwide.

What began as a small operation with several employees has grown into a 240,000 square foot manufacturing and office space in Eagleville, Pennsylvania, USA with more than 350 employees.

The company now holds over 525 US and foreign patents, and over 135 US and Foreign Trademarks.

IFSJ caught up with Donato Sasso, Director of International Business Development at Streamlight, who highlights the importance of collaboration with emergency service professionals in shaping product designs that truly cater to real-world demands.

From navigating smoke-filled environments to balancing brightness with battery life, we explore the innovations tailored to these heroes’ needs.

How does Streamlight adapt its products for modern urban firefighting?

Lights have evolved to be smaller, lighter, and brighter.

We consistently work with emergency service professionals and rescue teams to grasp the unique challenges of contemporary firefighting.

As cities and urban landscapes evolve, we adapt our products to meet these changing needs.

Our focus on research and development enables us to stay abreast of technological advancements.

A flashlight’s design is specifically tailored to complement firefighters’ clothing and equipment.

This ensures ergonomic compatibility during use, including features like quick-release straps, a sturdy clip for attachment to SCBA or turncoats, and blue taillight LEDs.

Lights like the Survivor® X ATEX clip securely onto gear, and the Portable Scene Light II can hang over guard rails or on fire engines, offering hands[1]free solutions.

These features allow firefighters to navigate hostile environments effectively, with essential tools and equipment readily accessible for reaching hazardous areas.

During our design process, we consider all the gear a firefighter must wear.

Our goal is to create lights that are lighter and easier to handle, ensuring they don’t hinder a firefighter’s performance.

Additionally, as the landscape changes, it is important to note that we have recognised low battery indication as a key feature, and we have added battery indicators to many of our firefighting products.

Concentrating on candela also allows us to create a tighter beam, which reduces glare and the bounce-back effect from white smoke.

Some products not only have primary LEDs but also have blue taillight LEDs that are visible in smoke.

This is an added benefit as it is a neutral signal and allows a firefighter to see their fellow firefighters in front of them, or the light can be used to mark an entrance or exit.

How does Streamlight balance brightness with battery life effectively?

Most products offer different levels of brightness so that users can choose the appropriate level to meet the needs of their environment or current situation.

Lower brightness will allow for additional battery run time as opposed to a higher setting that may utilise more of the battery in a shorter time.

In some cases, we may initially increase lumen output for a very short time, then quickly ramp down the output for both thermal reasons and run time purposes.

This is dependent on the product and application.

For example, with a tactical application, short bursts of extreme lumen output could be beneficial.

On the other hand, an eight-hour shift application requires long run time, so brightness is not as critical.

The type of battery, cost of battery, and ease of replaceability of the battery is also important.

The ProTac® HL-X is intended to use two CR123A batteries or one Streamlight SL-B26® rechargeable battery pack, which both provide slightly different run times.

For this light and others, we also provide a TEN-TAP® feature to allow the customer to choose their preferred output upon the first tap of the tail switch (usually high versus low), depending on what their application is.

How do collaborations shape Streamlight’s product design and functionality?

Our collaborations involve a direct relationship with firefighters in different parts of the world to understand the challenges they face in real-world scenarios.

Their feedback is crucial in shaping the design and functionality of our products.

Streamlight’s design process often includes beta testing in the field, ensuring that the final products are not only technologically advanced but also practical and tailored to the specific needs of firefighters.

We meet with top departments within the fire industry to discuss current and future product offerings to obtain feedback on products – what is working, what is not, new challenges to address.

We utilise these relationships to provide new product testing to be certain that new products are up to the rigors of structural firefighting environments.

How does Streamlight support training for advanced lighting tools?

Streamlight organise or participate in workshops and seminars, providing hands-on training with our advanced lighting tools.

Collaborative training initiatives with firefighting academies help integrate Streamlight’s products into training courses, ensuring that firefighters are well-prepared to use our lights in an effective way.

We sponsor international fire bodies and organisations like OBA (Organización de Bomberos Americanos) to support the firefighting community and exhibit at key fire events at a worldwide level (Interschutz, FDIC), national level (Thematic Days, SICUR, ESS, RETTmobil), and at local trade shows and open days.

Our team also participates in live firefighting exercises at training facilities to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced in structural firefighting environments.

How does Streamlight approach environmental responsibility in production?

We incorporate eco-friendly practices into our manufacturing processes and product design.

This includes the use of recyclable materials and the development of flashlights with energy-efficient LEDs and rechargeable batteries.

Another important aspect is understanding and ensuring that our products are in compliance with environmental regulations all over the world.

Whenever possible, we lead with rechargeable products.

Rechargeable batteries last much longer than disposable ones, and many can be recharged over 500 times.

Products that use these rechargeable batteries can reduce downstream waste and ultimately save the consumer money on battery replacement costs.

While disposable batteries are initially cheaper, one should consider the savings on operating costs when opting for rechargeable batteries.

What initiatives does Streamlight have for product longevity and reducing waste?

Streamlight designs products with rugged construction, high-quality materials, and modular components that can be repaired or replaced if needed.

By creating durable lighting solutions and by having a Limited Lifetime Warranty Program, we hope to extend the life of our flashlights and reduce the need for full product replacements, contributing to waste reduction.

How do you envision the future of firefighting lighting solutions in terms of sustainability and eco-friendliness?

Our company foresee a future where firefighting lighting solutions become increasingly sustainable and eco-friendly.

This involves advancements in materials, new energy efficient technologies and the integration of renewable energy sources as well as environmentally friendly packaging.

This article was originally published in the February 2024 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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