Introducing the FireTech® Omen™ Warning Lightbar for Emergency Vehicles
Our entry into the world of warning lights is a good omen for the future of HiViz LED Lighting and the technology in the emergency vehicle lighting industry. The FireTech Omen Warning Lightbar is one of the first product series to be operated using the newly launched HiViz Connect™ protocol.
We’ll get more in-depth on HiViz Connect (HVC) in a separate post, but in a nutshell: HiViz Connect is our newest communication protocol, making our hardware products virtually future proof as it enables your lighting system to be updated over time. Feature enhancements and updates can be downloaded and sent to your warning lights without ever having to take them off the truck. This capability is built into all the fixtures, no expensive central brain box required.
The creation of Omen is something we thought long and hard about. We got into the world of LED lighting technology for emergency vehicles because many of us, including HiViz CEO and founder Sam Massa, have experienced life as a first responder. We know what it’s like to not be able to see (or be seen) while working on the side of the road at 2:00 AM. This has resulted in a company-wide extreme passion for helping first responders work more safely and effectively after dark, so they can save lives.
As our customer relationships grew, requests for the ability to outfit an entire apparatus in the FireTech brand grew too. And if you know us, you know we take our customer service very seriously. So off we went on a mission to create the best warning lightbar on the planet (yes,we know it’s a bold claim, but we stand by it. Just keep reading).
To properly explain the Omen Warning Lightbar, we need to briefly sidestep into the history of lightbars.
The History of Lightbars for Emergency Vehicle Lighting
It wasn’t until the 1960s that warning lightbars became prevalent on fire apparatus. An extension of what was the individual old-school rotating light, early lightbars expanded on this design to allow for additional warning functions on emergency vehicles. They included a big plastic cover over the inner assembly, which usually included a motor or series of motors that would rotate each of the reflectors around a series of bulbs.
Fast forwarding to the late 1980’s, the emergency lightbar became more complex. It was around this time that strobe lights were introduced. These strobe lights had bulbs that were very similar to the flash on an old-school camera and had a reflector behind them to project the light outward. An onboard “brain” of sorts controlled the flash patterns and distributed a very high voltage to the strobe bulbs at the desired intervals. Lightbars today have come to include LED modules and circuitry onboard, allowing for very high warning output, endless flash patterns, and lower power requirements from the emergency vehicle. The structure, however, remains largely unchanged, with all internal parts and centralized circuitry under a large lens that is accessible for serviceability and light module color changes.
With the traditional warning lightbar design, if the board in the central “brain” goes bad for whatever reason, the whole lightbar goes out. They’re also really susceptible to water damage due to seams in the plastic covering, which is one of the two main killers of LEDs (alongside heat). As lighting technology has evolved from halogen to LED, from “traditional” to smart, warning lightbar manufacturers have continued to use the same 1980s design – but why?
We don’t like to do things the same way they’ve been done for years just for the sake of it. Instead, we prefer to question the norm, to take a step back and look at things from the first responder point of view to understand how products need to function in the real world. So, in true HiViz LED Lighting fashion, we decided to burn it all down and rebuild from the ground up. This allowed us to create something the market has never seen before, while still offering the industry’s only Advance Exchange Lifetime Warranty.
The FireTech Omen Warning Lightbar Brings New Design & Features to the Fire Apparatus Market and Emergency Vehicle Lighting
Through the design process, we realized that rotators and giant pieces of plastic are a thing of the past. There’s no longer a need to have access to the internal central brain of a lightbar… so we removed the center entirely.
The Omen was engineered to give you a simple exoskeleton and modern, software-enabled, multi-color sealed modules, giving you the ultimate flexibility while maintaining a super simple design. This has resulted in a warning lightbar that is maintenance-free and puts an end to moisture issues.
An End to Moisture Issues for Emergency Vehicles
Moisture is one of the two main killers of lighting products on fire apparatus (alongside heat). Like all FireTech fixtures, two vents on the rear of the housing allow for pressure relief while keeping out moisture.
And unlike older lightbar designs, it’s impossible for the center of the FireTech Omen Lightbar to fill with water. Our new design is reminiscent of a bucket without a bottom, with nothing to leak into, allowing water to pass through without getting stuck inside and killing your circuit board.
Maintenance-free Through Modularity
While we’ve totally flipped the script, the more traditional design of lightbars from the 1960s through today served a legitimate purpose – to make it easy to service the lights and other internal components that burned out or needed adjustment over the service life of the vehicle. That maintenance was expected, and the bars’ design made the best out of that reality. Even today, when your lightbar needs maintenance, you must take the whole thing apart – which means the truck goes out of service. But now, there’s a better way to do things.
Our lightbar redesign focused on sealed external modules that can be configured to be any color in software, which means there is no need to get “inside” to change circuit boards or components. In the event of physical damage or defect with a module, it’s as simple as sliding off the exoskeleton and swapping out during the next PM. There’s no central brain, nowhere for moisture to accumulate, and modules are built out of aluminum which means they’re more durable than the average piece of plastic.
Here’s how that works: In our system, power is distributed to each individual light module. If a module gets damaged, it will only affect that individual module and can easily be swapped out with no impact to the rest of the lightbar. If you damage the bar, the modular design also allows you to replace a module rather than the whole fixture – reducing cost and the need for spare parts. There will never be a need to take an Omen Warning Lightbar Module apart.
Our Advance Exchange Lifetime Warranty means that, in the event you ever do need to replace a module, simply let us know and we’ll ship a new one to you immediately.
Solving the issue of maintenance and moisture is game-changing, but we didn’t stop there.
Additional Omen Warning Lightbar Features for Emergency Vehicle LED Lighting
Safety Cloud Integration for Emergency Vehicle Lighting
Lights and sirens alone will never totally solve the problem of motorists and autonomous vehicles crashing into parked emergency vehicles.
The Omen connects seamlessly with HAAS Alert’s Safety Cloud. In retrofit applications, install a HA5 directly onto the warning lightbar’s exoskeleton, connect the interface cable, and immediately connect with the world around you.
On new apparatus, simply connect the HiViz Connect network to the HAAS Alert supplied on your apparatus and enable an advanced set of features through a software update.
When a HAAS Alert device is connected, the lightbar becomes a smart internet-connected beacon which alerts motorists and other first responders of your presence while responding and on scene – regardless of the brand of lights they choose. Adding a HA5 device to your system can enable over-the-air software updates for your fixtures, feature expansions, simple access to setting configurations, and intelligent multi-vehicle lighting controls. This is the natural 21st century solution to safer roads.
Command on Demand
Command on Demand functionality turns your lightbar and any fixtures with green LEDs on the apparatus to a steady burning green, indicating the command post at the press of a button.
Automatic Night Mode for Emergency Vehicle Lighting
Night modes are a hot topic in the fire service lately.
With the FireTech Omen, each side module of the lightbar has an ambient light sensor. This means the light bar will get two ambient light sensor readings.
In perfect conditions (high noon, no clouds, no shade being cast on the truck), you would expect both sensor readings to be the same.
In imperfect conditions, one sensor could be shaded or have dirt on it, while another could be getting direct sunlight while the sun rises or sets. To deal with these instances, the readings can be compared by the internals of the Omen to decide how bright it actually is outside.
To put it more simply, the ambient light sensors ensure proper light intensity, even in shady areas. Even better – the night mode setting is truck-wide, so there is no need to program fixtures individually! Any HiViz Connect fixture on the network will receive the night mode command when it is enabled.
Water Level or Charge Status Indicator
Never get caught unaware of your water levels again. Using the multi-color center row, the lightbar can project a clear water level indication onto the scene to assist in firefighting operations. Are you building an EV Fire Apparatus? We’ve also accounted for the ability to display vehicle charge status (some integration with your apparatus manufacturer required.)
Color Features for Fire Apparatus Warning Lights
Every FireTech Omen lightbar comes fully populated with blue, amber, green, red, and white in the middle row. This reduces complexity and eliminates the need for you to spend time configuring your lightbars prior to spec’ing your apparatus.
Like the out-of-box factory configuration on an iPhone, where you customize the software yourself, every single Omen lightbar is identical. The hardware is the same no matter what; you simply choose your length, mounting location, and whether you want to add a smart FireTech brow light below it, and you’re done. The system will operate in one of 4 modes: responding day, responding night, on-scene day, on-scene night. While up to 8 user-programmed inputs are available on the Omen Lightbar, at a minimum, your fire truck manufacturer will only need to supply an E-master trigger and a park-break trigger to bring the system to life. To choose your colors and flash patterns, simply configure the system using our app and you’re off to the races.
A unique feature of having a 5-color center warning light is that the same Omen lightbar you use for primary response can also work as a traffic director in one moment and change to steady burn green to indicate the command post the next moment. Additionally, the multi-color configurability gives you the freedom to work anywhere without worrying about different jurisdictions’ restrictions on warning light color, because you can program the lights to change colors as you cross state lines. If the truck is ever sold to another agency or the laws change, you can enable or disable different colors or flash patterns without having to buy a new lightbar.
Other Key Features of the FireTech Omen Warning Lightbar for the Fire Apparatus Market
Optional mounting for FireTech brow light underneath with the J-foot mounting bracket. Mount the FireTech Brow Light underneath the Omen with the J-foot mounting bracket to create a functional, uniform look while eliminating extra mounting holes on the top of the cab.
Includes eight user-selectable system-wide standard inputs that are used to trigger various functions on the lighting system. Add 14 additional inputs an using expansion module. For instance, you could have E-Master, Command on Demand, Manual Night Mode, Traffic Director Left, Traffic Director Right, Center Out, and Park break.
Virtually unlimited flash patterns and user programmable traffic director functions. Flash patterns and traffic director functions can be configured using either our Field Support Tool or software app. All HiViz Connect-enabled devices can receive firmware updates in the field without removing any light from the truck.
Single-wire HiViz Connect network uses tech you already have on your apparatus. The sync wire that connects the Omen lightbar to other warning or scene lights uses a unique method of passing data across a single wire control interface. Where traditional fixtures received pulsed sync triggers (like a metronome), we’re sending data across this wire. This allows the fixtures to communicate messages and settings, as well as update their firmware features. These network wires route messages to warning lights and scene lights and allow these lights to send messages back to the light bar for seamless communication throughout the lighting ecosystem.
The beauty here is that it’s literally one single wire for each network – we love simple wiring!
Bluetooth enabled functionality coming soon; hardware is already installed, with wireless functionality enabled in future software updates. Over Bluetooth, lights will have the ability to be controlled, updated, configured, and send messages to other Bluetooth-enabled lights.
Like many modern devices, most can be updated, configured, and controlled wirelessly. Many even do updates in the background with minimal user interaction.
Bluetooth functionality allows us to bring warning and scene lights up to modern device stands for maximum configurability and convenience.
New for 2024: The new NFPA standard allows green on fire trucks. All warning lightbars incorporate green in addition to more common colors in our 5-color configuration. We’re excited for this NFPA language change and are ready for anything customers want to do with it.
The Future of the FireTech Omen Warning Lightbar for the Fire Apparatus Market
Now that the hardware is ready for you, we’ll be able to provide regular software updates to your Omen via our field support tool.
Future updates in Omen will include follow-friendly lighting modes that will reduce the intensities of other emergency vehicles’ lights, cloud interconnectivity for configuring settings and features, customizable flash pattern libraries, and more.
The system also aims to be the most retrofittable solution in the market, allowing wireless synchronization and communication between the light bar and the vehicle. Additional features to aid in vehicle-to-vehicle synchronization, deeper integrations with fire truck manufacturers, and user-configurable software programs will also be built out in the next year.
The FireTech Omen Warning Light Bar is available to pre-order now, with expected shipping as early as September. Stay up to date with Omen and other product developments by following us on social media. If you want to dive into the specifics of different models and dimensions, check out our product page.
As always–reach out for more info. We’re here to help!