High-Rise (Multi-Level) lights

NESQ115

Junior Member
(My apologies if anyone has covered this topic before, but...)

In 1966, NYPD started outfitting some of its cars with supplemental "high-rise" lights, also known as Multi-Level lights, mounted behind the usual Beacon Ray and consisting of two bars that could be vertically rotated 90 degrees (goal-post style.) They were made by the local Julian A. McDermott company and were intended to provide enhanced, long range warning on-scene of roadway accidents and disabled vehicles, etc. There were 6 double-faced lights; 3 on each bar, flashing in an alternating pattern. The lights were also used in the down-position (e.g., while in motion). Over the years, there has been a progression of newer models and configurations, to include the incorporation of spotlights, etc., not to mention Whelen's introduction of a similar product.

The basic concept is still in use today in the NYC metro area for highway patrol. My question is, does anyone know of anywhere distant from New York that used/uses such equipment?
 

Attachments

801

Site Regular
Did you have to raise and lower them manually? Just wondering because I've never seen on in person.
 

NPS Ranger

Veteran Member
The raising system uses an electric motor, if memory serves it's a motor adapted from a snowplow blade lift/tilt setup.

Edit: Chiefops beat me while i was typing. :)
 

NPS Ranger

Veteran Member
Maybe I wasn't paying attention but I don't remember that wart with the red blinky back in the day. What's up with that? Maybe an inflatable liferaft for when the vehicle gets blown off the Whitestone Bridge?
 
OP
OP
NESQ115

NESQ115

Junior Member
LOL! McDermott designated that unit as an ML-4-Strobe, so I gather the blinker is a strobe.

If McDermott riser lights are rare outside the NY metro area, the ML-4-Strobe qualifies as rare even within the metro area! I don't recall any agency other than the Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority that used that model. Why TBTA selected that version I don't know, but they had them in service for a good number of years in the '80s & '90s.

By the way, here's a photo of one on a Chevy wagon, where the red/amber configuration is reversed from what was on the Plymouth.
 

Attachments

lotsofbars

Veteran Member
TBTA still runs riser bars as their primary warning. They're the new Whelen version with all LED heads. The same style that was used to the rear on FDNY Battalion vehicles up until recently. Check it out.

ac1.staticflickr.com_1_219_491718803_219c5152ce_b.jpg
 

CrownVic97

Veteran Member
Looks like a NYPD Aerodynic to me
The only exception is the lense configuration. The rotators are under red sections, mirrors under clear, and the forward flashers are under amber.
 
OP
OP
NESQ115

NESQ115

Junior Member
The only exception is the lense configuration. The rotators are under red sections, mirrors under clear, and the forward flashers are under amber.
Presumably there would be one more difference - the red rotating lamps for NYPD instead have to be clear lamps here, yes?
 

Attachments

Last edited:

ERIC6913

Premium Member
Man you guys are too nit picky LOL. I simply just meant it is an aerodynic 24RMVF. I can see the lens configuration is different LOL
 

CHIEFOPS

Senior Member
The Riser lights are elevated so the primary lightbar can be seen from the rear, in my opinion unnecessary.
The current NYPD practice is to elevate the newer more compact Vision SLR bar so it can be seen from the rear over the Riser lights, again in my opinion unnecessary.
 

ERIC6913

Premium Member
Here's vintage photos showing another interesting approach for ensuring that the McDermott riser unit did not block the lightbar!

Maybe this was done in order to clear the luggage rack ...
ok, now that's a little much LOL. Starting to look like an early Ecto-1 prototype build
 
Denver, CO PD uses a version of a riser bar. Used to be made by Super Vac but not able to find any info. In fairness, have not dug deep. I bought an old one at auction. It had an all light MX7000 and a Whelen TA mounted to it with the factory 6 inch oval TA built on the riser.
This pic is at Denver International Airport.

m;km;l,m;.jpg
 

ex416

Member
i remember seeing a Denver CO PD squad with a type of riser bar back in 78 or 79 when i was stationed there. the riser apparatus was boxy looking, which was what caught my eye because i had never seen one before. i'm not sure anymore, but i think it was equiped with a twinsonic lightbar.
 
OP
OP
NESQ115

NESQ115

Junior Member
Denver, CO PD uses a version of a riser bar. Used to be made by Super Vac but not able to find any info. In fairness, have not dug deep. I bought an old one at auction. It had an all light MX7000 and a Whelen TA mounted to it with the factory 6 inch oval TA built on the riser.
This pic is at Denver International Airport.

View attachment 155244
Interesting. This looks like it may be the same unit used by the NY-NJ Port Authority Police in the 1980s. To my understanding it was an Acme Hi-Low.

Whatever you think about the Hi-Low, ya gotta love the serious push-bumper on this bridge patrol car.
 

Attachments

Mars Light

Member
Great pics and very interesting setup for this PAPD car.
Good for Walking Dead or other scenarios.

Do you have more pics of this car?
 

CHIEFOPS

Senior Member
That push-bumper was fairly standard on PAPD RMPs of that era, probably most bridge and tunnel units plus some Bus Terminal units too
 

Maxim2Eng

Premium Member
Platinum Supporter
Having only been to NYC 3 times, I never got to see these lights in action...and I actually drove once into Manhattan from Philly (1987). IMHO, the ascetics of these bars were plum forsaken, but I sure get the utilitarian need as it seemed drivers were either driving with their eyes closed or using Brail (rumble strips on shoulders and reflectors on lane markers). As I recall, it was eight lanes of traffic moving down the Ave. of the Americas with only 6 lanes defined. You quickly learned the 1st rule...Tonnage Counts!
 

NPS Ranger

Veteran Member
That push-bumper was fairly standard on PAPD RMPs of that era, probably most bridge and tunnel units plus some Bus Terminal units too
Not an elevating bar, but these have always been my favorite fire/tow/battering ram trucks over the years - these are 30 years apart (from Michael Martinelli's excellent fdnytrucks.com site):

afdnytrucks.com_images_specialunits_papd_PAPD54663.jpg

afdnytrucks.com_images_specialunits_papd_PAPD54521.jpg
 
OP
OP
NESQ115

NESQ115

Junior Member
No, just those 3 I'm afraid. Unfortunately I have no rear photo.
But here's two other PAPD cars with the same push-bumpers, assigned to another bridge command. At that time, it seems that the relatively few PAPD cars that had McDermott lights had red StreetHawks, while the rest of the cars had red/blue AeroDynics.
 

Attachments

Online statistics

Members online
3
Guests online
331
Total visitors
334

Members online

Forum statistics

Threads
48,148
Messages
421,507
Unanswered questions
8
Members
17,351
Latest member
Shackman7878
Top Bottom