"Jump out and set up the scene lights" is an order that may come your way from the officer's seat and you think, "what?" But is scene lighting an important fireground task? Absolutely, scene lighting is a crucial task that should be done early on in any fire that happens past nightfall. It provides a safer scene for the attack crew to work in as they approach the scene, the pump operator as they make their connections, and the commander to get a true look at the scene.
Now, is scene lighting the first priority upon arrival? I would say no, but have it as a close third or fourth. Why should we stumble around the dark as we throw ladders and advance hose? It makes good sense to take the minute to put up the telescoping lights on your engine to provide a bright and wide pattern of light.
Once the first crews make their way into a rehab area, changing bottles and preparing for reentry to the fire, the area is made safer with scene lighting. Placing portable lights or staging your rehab area near a unit with lights on is a good practice to make things smoother and safer.
It seems obvious that a simple task such as scene lighting being deployed couldn't be overlooked on any scene that happens at night. But in the busy moments of a first or second arriving units it sometimes gets overlooked. With life safety and extinguishment being the first priorities always keep in mind that keep your scene bright and light will provide a safer environment for us all!
Thanks for the visit to the jumpseat. And keep the lights on!