Picture of a fire truck at night with led fire truck lights flashing.

In the world of emergency response, visibility and reliability are paramount. As a fire department, the safety of your crew and the effectiveness of your response depends heavily on your equipment. One of the most impactful upgrades you can make to your older fire trucks is retrofitting them with modern LED fire truck lights. In this blog, we’ll walk through the process of upgrading your fire apparatus with state-of-the-art LED lighting systems, ensuring your fleet remains visible, efficient, and compliant with current standards.

The Bright Benefits of LED Fire Truck Lights

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of the retrofitting process, it's essential to understand why upgrading to LED lighting is such a game-changer for fire departments. LED technology has revolutionized emergency vehicle lighting, offering a multitude of advantages over traditional halogen or incandescent lights.

Enhanced Visibility

First and foremost, LED lights significantly enhance visibility. The bright, intense light emitted by LEDs cuts through darkness, fog, and even daylight with remarkable efficacy. This improved visibility isn't just about being seen from a distance – it's about clearly communicating the presence and movement of your fire truck to other motorists and pedestrians, potentially preventing accidents and clearing the way for faster response times.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is another major benefit of LED fire truck lights. LEDs consume significantly less power than their traditional counterparts, which translates to reduced strain on your vehicle's electrical system. This efficiency is particularly crucial for fire trucks, which rely heavily on their electrical systems to power a variety of critical equipment.


The longevity of LED lights is truly impressive. While a typical halogen bulb might last for 500 to 1,000 hours of use, high-quality LED lights can continue performing for 50,000 hours or more. This extended lifespan means less frequent replacements, lower maintenance costs, and most importantly, more reliable performance when it matters most.


Durability is another area where LED lights shine. Emergency vehicles, by nature of their work, are subject to intense vibrations, sudden impacts, and harsh weather conditions. LED lights — with their solid-state construction — are inherently more resistant to these stresses than fragile filament-based bulbs. This ruggedness ensures that your lights will continue to function reliably even in the most demanding situations.


Lastly, modern LED systems offer unprecedented levels of customization. From a wide array of flash patterns to multi-color options, these lights provide the flexibility to create highly visible and attention-grabbing lighting configurations. This customization allows you to optimize your fire truck's lighting for different scenarios, from en-route signaling to on-scene area illumination.

Side profile view of a fire truck's LED light bar.

Planning Your LED Fire Truck Light Upgrade

Upgrading your fire apparatus with LED lights is a significant undertaking that requires careful planning and consideration. Let's break down the key steps in the planning process:

#1 Assessing Your Current Setup

The first step in any upgrade process is to thoroughly evaluate your existing lighting system. This assessment should be comprehensive, covering every light on your fire truck. Start by documenting the location, type, and function of each light. Pay special attention to areas where visibility could be improved – perhaps there are blind spots or areas where additional lighting could enhance safety or operational efficiency.

It's also crucial to check your vehicle's electrical capacity at this stage. LED lights generally draw less power than traditional lights, but if you're planning to add additional lights or other electrical equipment, you'll need to ensure your vehicle's electrical system can handle the load.

#2 Navigating Regulations and Standards

Compliance with regulations is non-negotiable when it comes to emergency vehicle lighting. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1901 standard provides detailed specifications for fire apparatus lighting. This comprehensive document covers everything from the color and intensity of lights to their placement on the vehicle.

In addition to national standards, you'll need to consider state and local laws regarding emergency vehicle lighting. These can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another, so it's important to do your homework.

Don't forget to consult with your department's leadership as well. They may have specific requirements or preferences based on departmental policies or local operational needs.

Choosing Your LED Fire Truck Lights

Selecting the right LED lights for your fire truck is a critical part of the upgrade process. You'll need to consider different types of lights for various areas and functions of your vehicle:

  • Emergency Warning Lights. These are the most visible and recognizable lights on your fire truck. Consider LED light bars for the roof, as well as smaller beacons and surface-mount lights for the sides and rear of the vehicle. Look for lights with multiple flash patterns and high light output.

  • Scene Lighting. Powerful LED flood lights and spotlights can dramatically improve visibility around your fire truck during nighttime operations. Consider options that can be adjusted or swiveled to direct light where it's needed most.

  • Compartment Lighting. LED strip lights are an excellent choice for illuminating storage compartments. They provide even, energy-efficient lighting that can significantly improve the organization and accessibility of equipment.

  • Ground Lighting. Often overlooked, ground lighting can greatly enhance safety around the vehicle. Look for durable, weather-resistant LED ground lights that can withstand the rigors of emergency operations.

When selecting lights, consider factors such as light output (measured in lumens), power draw, durability ratings, and warranty coverage. It's often worth investing in higher-quality lights from reputable manufacturers to ensure long-term reliability and performance.

Installation Planning

Once you've selected your lights, you'll need to decide whether to handle the installation in-house or hire professionals. This decision will depend on several factors:

  1. Technical Capabilities. Assess your team's skills and experience with vehicle electrical systems and light installation.

  1. Complexity of the Upgrade. Some retrofits may require significant modifications to the vehicle, which might be beyond the scope of in-house capabilities.

  1. Time and Budget Constraints. Professional installation might be faster but more expensive, while in-house installation could save money but take longer.

  1. Warranty Considerations. Some manufacturers may require professional installation to maintain warranty coverage.

If you decide to proceed with in-house installation, ensure you have all the necessary tools and safety equipment on hand before beginning the project.

The Retrofitting Process

With your planning complete, it's time to begin the actual retrofitting process. This can be broken down into several key steps:

Preparing Your Fire Truck

Before you start installing new lights, you need to prepare your vehicle. This involves:

  1. Disconnecting the battery to ensure safety during the installation process.
  2. Carefully removing old lighting fixtures. Take care not to damage the vehicle's body or paint during this process.
  3. Cleaning and preparing surfaces for new installations. This might involve sanding, painting, or applying rust-proofing treatments depending on the condition of your vehicle.

Installing New Wiring

Many LED systems require different wiring setups than traditional lights. This step might involve:

  1. Running new, appropriately gauged wires for your LED power requirements.
  2. Installing a central control unit to manage multiple light functions.
  3. Adding a voltage reducer if your system operates on 24V but your new LED lights require 12V.

Ensure all wiring is properly secured and protected from heat, moisture, and abrasion.

Mounting New LED Fire Truck Lights

With wiring in place, you can begin mounting your new LED lights. Key considerations include:

  1. Using proper mounting hardware and weatherproof connections to ensure durability.
  2. Ensuring all lights are securely fastened to withstand the vibration and impacts common in emergency operations.
  3. Carefully aligning lights for maximum visibility and effectiveness.

Connecting and Testing the System

Once all lights are mounted:

  1. Connect all wiring to the central control unit.
  2. Reconnect the battery and test each light individually.
  3. Verify that all flash patterns and functions work correctly.

Programming and Customization

Many modern LED systems offer programmable features. Take time to:

  1. Set up desired flash patterns for different scenarios.
  2. Customize light colors if your system allows.
  3. Sync lights for coordinated patterns across the vehicle.
Two firefighters standing in front of their fire truck.

Maintaining Your New LED Fire Truck Lights

To ensure the longevity and performance of your new LED lighting system, implement a regular maintenance routine:

  1. Conduct monthly inspections of all lights and connections.
  2. Clean lights carefully using appropriate solutions to maintain clarity and brightness.
  3. If your system has updatable firmware, keep it current to ensure optimal performance.
  4. Train all personnel on the proper operation and care of the new lighting system.

Retrofitting Your Fire Truck With LED Lights

Retrofitting your fire apparatus with LED fire truck lights is a significant upgrade that enhances safety, efficiency, and overall performance. By carefully planning and executing this upgrade, you can ensure your fire trucks are equipped with the latest in emergency lighting technology.


When it comes to LED lights, quality and reliability are paramount. Ultra Bright Lightz — with our commitment to affordability and excellent customer service — offers a wide range of LED fire truck lights designed to meet the demanding needs of first responders. Our product lineup includes everything from powerful light bars and beacons to efficient compartment lighting and durable surface-mount lights.


By investing in LED technology from trusted suppliers like Ultra Bright Lightz, you're not just upgrading your lights – you're investing in the safety of your crew and the communities you serve. The improved visibility, energy efficiency, and reliability of LED lights can make a real difference in emergency situations. Plus, our founder spent over 6 years as a volunteer firefighter himself, so the safety and well-being of fire departments and local communities is at the very heart of what we do.


Start your LED retrofitting project today and experience the transformative impact that modern emergency lighting can have on your fire department's operations. With the right planning, quality products, and proper installation, your upgraded fire trucks will be ready to respond with enhanced visibility and reliability, day or night.