Several weeks ago, I happened to be out at a fire department training center as the department trained with thermal imagers. The only training they planned to conduct was to get the flashover container hot and then go in and see what it looked like with their thermal imager. The thought...
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Obviously, a lot of attention is being paid to flashover training and understanding throughout the fire service and for good reason: 2010 was one of the lowest years for firefighter line-of-duty deaths that we have seen in some time, at 87; however, by calling a training "flashover training," we may be inadvertently giving the impression that flashover is a routine event rather than a culmination of successive, prior events that can lead to a potentially catastrophic outcome for the firefighter. It is these pre-flashover events that you must train for. In the same way that you size-up a building prior to entry, you must constantly size-up the interior conditions and be observant of change, because avoidance is the only sure-fire pathway to survival.
"Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster."—Sun Tzu
BRAD HARVEY is the Thermal Imaging Product Manager at Bullard. He is a veteran of public safety as a firefighter, police officer and paramedic and is certified through the Law Enforcement Thermographers' Association (LETA) as a thermal imaging instructor. Harvey has worked as a high-angle rescue instructor and is a certified rescue technician and fire instructor. If you have questions about thermal imaging, you may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.