An enlightening look at the makeup of our fire service.
Have you ever walked into a store that specializes in lighting fixtures and gazed in amazement at how many different types of lighting fixtures, bulbs and wattages there are?
You can walk into in any firehouse in the country and see the same things. You may be reading this and ask what the (expletive) does Ron mean by that?
Well then, welcome and come on in to “Firehouse Specialty Lighting, Incorporated”! We are open for business. Allow me to give you the tour of our wonderful “store”.
Look up at the ceiling (or corner office) and see our wonderful displays of chandeliers. Don’t they look pretty? Some of them are adorned with more gold than Fort Knox. Some of them shine brightly, leading the way; others are on dimmer switches that are totally controlled from outside of the fire service. The dimmers come from the firm known as Politics, Bean Counters and Public Opinion, who feel that they must dictate how much power the chandelier is allowed to have.
This aisle has our collection of spotlights. Our spotlights shine brightly in one area, not so much in others. Firehouse Lighting has many kinds of spotlights; we just might have what you need, but be advised that there is no guarantee that they can perform all of the functions that you need. They come in different wattages, depending on the knowledge necessary to perform the functions you need them for. Each one is different. The Suppression model may do great at fire but they suck at doing inspections, the Public Education version may be passionate about spreading the fire safety gospel in front of groups of people yet perform poorly in fireground operations.
Over here, we have our collection of floodlights. You need lights that shine brightly over a wide area to illuminate the direction that your FD wants to go in? Well all right then… these are the babies that you want… they can do it all! Keep in mind that while these lights shine brightly over a wide area, they cannot cover everything when you are running shorthanded.
They will do their best to do it all. One must be careful, as continuing to use them in this fashion can burn them out before their time.
This part of our store has our “severe service” bulbs and fixtures. You can drop them, shake them, get them wet, expose them to some the harshest elements known to man and they still shine and get the job done. Put them together with our floodlights, you have a winning combination, as they complement each other!
We also have standard service bulbs and compact florescent units. They will do the same job as the severe service ones, but can’t take the same punishment. You have to be careful where you use them. The compact florescent units may give off the same wattage as our standard service bulbs on occasion, but they use a lot less energy than our other bulbs.
Finally.. We have our assortment of night lights. These lights have 3 to 4 watts of power at the most and barely give off any light at all… one would hardly know that they are there. They try and avoid shining brightly as much as possible.
As you can see, we have the full range of lighting fixtures and solutions… and we want you to have a say on how we operate. The question is… do you want to be a bright chandelier, or one with a dimmer that will keep dimming based on the whims of the politicians, bean counters and the public?
Do you want to be a spotlight or do you aspire to be a floodlight?
Do you want to be known as a severe service, regular service, or compact florescent light?
By the way… we are already way overstocked on nightlights…
Ron Ayotte is a Deputy Chief of the Marlborough (MA) Fire Department and employee to the Support Services division of the Massachusetts Department of Fire Service/Massachusetts Firefighting Academy.
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