Gear Test: Streamlight’s Knucklehead work light: Firefighting Operations

Gear Test: Streamlight’s Knucklehead work light

Streamlight designs, manufactures and markets a variety of portable lighting products, including a broad range of miniature, rechargeable and standard-battery, precision-engineered flashlights and lanterns for firefighters. This year, Streamlight introduced a lightweight, rechargeable, hand-held work light with a 210-degree articulating head called the “Knucklehead.” The design was based off of the “Survivor” light, but the Knucklehead comes with several upgrades. Features include a strong magnet, C4 LED technology, high- and low-intensity modes, emergency flash and moonlight mode, and it’s available in floodlight and spotlight versions.

The original version of the Knucklehead was designed as a work light and was actually not recommended for structural firefighting; however, with some slight changes, this light has become as reliable as the Survivor light in smoke conditions and proves valuable on the fireground when determining hazards, navigating through a structure, identifying points of egress, such as doors and windows, locating victims, etc. And with the added features of the magnet and the articulating head, the Knucklehead can also be a very useful tool at technical rescue incidents and extrication incidents (my specialty).

Extrication scenes are more complicated at night, when being able to see clearly and process information are challenging. To assist with operations, one early and basic task is the placement of adequate scene lighting. But even with the best vehicle-mounted and portable lighting, shadows can be cast throughout an incident. Although it should never be the primary means of lighting, a well maintained work light can assist with visibility inside the vehicle and around the hot zone prior to and after the deployment of primary scene lighting. When testing the Knucklehead for such applications, I found it to be extremely useful, particularly during the evaluation of scene hazards, patient location and delivery of medical care.

Even with mounted lighting that doesn’t have to be deployed, sufficient lighting typically isn’t available for the first minute or two at a motor vehicle collision. The Knucklehead provides a powerful beam with a wide coverage area to evaluate the entire hot zone. The head can be pivoted in line with the light to replicate a traditional flashlight and used as such. When trying to assess the interior of the vehicle, the head could be rotated accordingly to allow visualization of the interior without contacting the vehicle prior to stabilization and risking further spinal injury of the victim.

When providing medical care, even during daylight hours, the interior of a vehicle may be dark enough to limit assessment and treatment of the patient. At times when the interior rescuer and patient are covered, light conditions may be comparable to working in complete darkness. Providing light may assist with patient care as well as the mental status of the patient. The Knucklehead provides a quick, easy and effective means of establishing a stationary light that can be focused in almost any direction. And because of the strength of the magnet, the light is able to hold itself anywhere there is the slightest bit of metal.

The Knucklehead proved to be very useful when completing other common extrication tasks. The light can be attached to turnout gear and used as a 90-degree light while moving and operating around the scene. For operations that are conducted in a specific area, the light can be fastened to the vehicle and positioned to illuminate the work area.

Sidebar 1: The Knucklehead

  • Multi-functional
  • Versatile
  • Strong beam
  • Lightweight
  • Rechargeable
  • 210-degree articulating head
  • Very strong magnet


  • None.

Sidebar 2
Streamlight Inc.
30 Eagleville Rd.
Eagleville, Pa 19403
Tel: 800/523-7488
Fax: 800/220-7007

Current Issue

April 2017
Volume 12, Issue 4