Last year, we brought our standard FireTech Guardian Warning Lights to the market for ambulances and there’s been much anticipation for the fire market version. The HiViz Connect™ Guardian® Warning Lights are finally here!
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 which allows fixtures to communicate with each other, the internet, and your fire apparatus without the need for a central brain. This protocol enables features like Digital Alerting via Safety Cloud, intelligent automatic night modes, SoftFlash patterns which ramp smoothly to any intensity, vehicle-to-vehicle sync, and Command on Demand™. HiViz Connect also enables the HVC Guardians to receive easy-to-install simple firmware updates without having to remove them from the truck. This can be done easily by connecting to the wired HVC Network, or over a wireless Bluetooth® connection after the first update.
HiViz Connect differs from traditional “smart” lighting systems in that that traditional systems require a central brain controller to handle processing of vehicle and logic-related data, then tells each fixture what to do in the system. These systems are designed as secondary electrical systems for patrol cars, but they aren’t well-optimized for larger emergency vehicles where apparatus manufacturers who build trucks from the ground up are laying out their primary electrical systems individually for each vehicle. They also often lack two-way communication from the fixtures, which limit the ability to make real time adjustments based on conditions around the vehicle.
Instead of a single-point-of-failure with a central brain, each fixture communicates its status to the network, and the fixtures then interpret the data to decide how to operate. This enables a backup plan in the event of fixture failure because the network can sense when something is not as it expects and respond. Imagine a fixture failure on the upper side of the body; the other fixtures can adjust their flash pattern and intensity to compensate and maintain NFPA compliance.
The fixtures can also share two-way communication including wattage, amperage, and flash patterns, making our hardware products virtually future proof as it enables your lighting system to be updated over time.
To reiterate, 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, again with no expensive central brain box required.
What makes the HVC Guardian Warning Lights so different from the industry standard?
During our research phase, we heard three common themes:
- Fire departments often want their warning lights and scene lights to complement each other (avoiding squares next to ovals).
- Folks are concerned that features in many smart lighting systems will be obsolete by the time their apparatus is manufactured.
- Off-axis viewing is critical.
One unified look | As we dive into the design, the HVC Guardians start with the same profile footprint as our Guardian and Guardian Elite scene lights. Side by side on an apparatus, they look like an intentionally matched pair.
Your lights won’t be obsolete no matter how long it takes to build your truck | We took care of the obsoletion concernby the creation of HiViz Connect. As mentioned above, HiViz Connect enables the HVC Guardians to receive easy-to-install simple firmware updates without having to remove them from the truck. This can be done easily by connecting to the wired HVC Network, or over a wireless Bluetooth connection after the first update.
Off-axis viewing |The HVC Guardians have an innovative optical design positioning a bank of LEDs next to a reflector at the edges of the fixtures so that side-firing LEDs can be illuminated perpendicular to the main lens. This serves two functions:
- It allows the fixture to have a greater-than-180-degree viewing angle, making it more conspicuous to traffic in off axis conditions.
- These LEDs project light from the uniquely shaped reflector onto the paint of the apparatus, creating additional warning projection as well as allowing for a gradual reduction from high-intensity fixture to ambient light levels.
HiViz CEO Sam Massa says, “It’s all about conspicuity, and is not all that dissimilar to the effect chevrons have on the back of a rig: they reflect light off of a large area to make it look bigger and more obvious than a single point light source ever could.” He goes on to explain, “When you look at a traditional light source, the light emits from such a small location, it feels very intense.”
Sam reflects on hearing firefighters and lay people talk about emergency vehicle warning lights being so bright they can’t see past the apparatus. Sam believes it largely has to do with the intensity in comparison to ambient light levels, as opposed to raw brightness. If your eyes have adjusted to the darkness of night and you pull up on a vehicle flashing at high intensity in your face, your eyes are already wide open and can’t respond in time. However, if you had a vehicle that was more softly illuminated using indirect light from the sides of the warning lights, it would produce a better gradient from darkness to the point light source. This makes it easier for you to see the truck.
Some manufacturers have tried to solve this problem by dimming the lights at night. While we believe it may be one way to help reduce glare, we fundamentally disagree with the notion that less light helps you be seen. A significant part of the solution comes from the angle, projection, and ambient light. The HVC Guardians project some light directly at traffic, and some light on to the truck to make it more visible without blinding drivers. They also have the ability to change intensities based on a multitude of data points like ambient light, time of day, call type, or other data provided to the system.
The side-firing LEDs are designed to shut off when the vehicle is driving to prevent glare to the driver in their mirrors. Once the parking brake is set, they engage to start providing additional coverage.
These surface-mounted smart warning lights are built with the same FireTech foundation that largely prevents the two largest killers of LEDs in public safety vehicles – overheated circuitry and moisture intrusions.
The HVC Guardian Warning Lights feature a full-sized aluminum heat sink. Heat sinks play a crucial role in keeping LED lighting fixtures cool, which ultimately contributes to the longevity of the fixture. Our aluminum heat sink is thicker than any other in the industry, with the metal folded in layers almost like an accordion which greatly increases the surface-to-air ratio. This allows heat to dissipate more efficiently, thereby keeping the fixture cooler and extending the life of the fixture. This heat sink is so durable, we tested it by hanging a 10,000lb H1 Hummer from the housing to see what would happen (spoiler alert: we couldn’t break the lights).
Moisture issues are combatted in two ways. First, through our Nitto TEMISH Vent which allows moisture to vent, ensuring no unwanted condensation or water droplets are trapped in the lens. Our innovative crack-proof corners enhance the water prevention efforts of the vent. This is accomplished by designing the housing so that the screws never encounter the lens. Our design prevents over-torquing from damaging the corners of the plastic, which is one of the most common failure modes in traditional warning lights.
No other light fixtures in this class offer safeguards of this nature against both moisture and heat. On top of that, we still offer the industry’s only Advance Exchange Lifetime Warranty on all FireTech products.
Let’s dive into the HVC Guardian Warning Lights’ other capabilities, which include a host of new features that we’re eager to share.
Key Features of new HiViz Connect Guardian Warning Lights: Smart surface-mounted warning lights
In addition to the standard forward-facing light circuits, we designed the lens to allow for light to be projected sideways from a second light circuit. This gives us over 180 degrees of light output, making the HVC Guardian the widest-throwing surface mounted warning light in the industry.
When equipped, the side LED circuits can be programmed to shut off while responding to prevent flashing glare from hitting your mirrors. When you’re on scene, the side-firing LEDs turn on to project 180-degrees for off-axis viewing, as well as for increased visibility by reflecting light off the surfaces of the truck.
Whole vehicle, one unified look: Scene and Warning Lights
The HVC Guardian fixtures match the Guardian and Guardian Jr Scene light, as well as the new Guardian Stop/Tail/Turn DOT lights. They look like an intentionally matched pair on the side of an apparatus, allowing customers to choose one unified system of scene and warning lights. You don’t have to spec oval lights next to square lights anymore, because this system finally unifies the look of the whole apparatus.
The HVC Guardian Warning lights come in both single and dual color versions. With the dual color option, the entire length of the light is populated with both colors, eliminating the half/half dual color lights that are prevalent across the fire industry.
Soft flash user programmable flash patterns
Maintain a visible presence once on scene without distracting from the work that needs to be done.
Bluetooth® configurability, sync, and control
In a future software update, these fixtures will include a Bluetooth app integration. The lights can be controlled, updated, configured, and send messages to other Bluetooth-enabled lights. This will enable wireless synchronization of fixtures and will significantly reduce installation time.
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.
This system communicates seamlessly with both the FireTech Omen Warning Lightbar as well as our HVC (smart) scene lights. If you’re responding, no need for red/white warning lights because the scene lights can act as the white portion of the light. When you get on scene, the white flashing will stop so you can use your scene lights as scene lights.
If you’re looking for something most cost-sensitive but still want warning lights with the same FireTech durability and quality you can expect, check out our standard Guardian Warning Lights.
The HVC Guardian Warning Lights are available to order now, with expected shipping as early as September. The HVC Guardian Junior Warning lights are available to order as well. Please see their product page for details or contact us for more information.