It's a new year…now what? A new year is upon us. At this time of year, people often contemplate lifestyle changes (lose weight, stop smoking, eat healthy), financial changes (invest for retirement, get out of debt, improve income) and even career changes (take the promotional exam...
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Tightly coupled to the question of efficiency must be that of firefighter safety. If there are going to be fewer firefighters on the street and efficiency becomes a focus, then the need for increased focus on firefighter safety has never been greater. The public and many elected officials will challenge policies such as minimum manning, sending fire trucks to assist on EMS calls and "two-in/two-out." The pressure to "produce" will certainly increase because, despite budget declines, calls for service will continue to increase.
So where does thermal imaging play into all of this? Increased efficiency and improved firefighter safety is what thermal imaging is all about. Restoring sight accomplishes both goals. Many people, both firefighters and civilians, have been saved by the use of this technology and lives saved is what this business is all about.
I would suggest a few New Year's resolutions pertaining to thermal imaging:
1. Resolve to use it if you got it. Not some of the time. Not whenever you think it might come in handy. Use it all of the time. Take it with you "just in case." If you are fortunate enough to have a thermal imager, you owe it to yourself, your citizens and your fellow firefighters to use the darn thing!
2. Resolve to incorporate thermal imaging into your training scenarios. If you train like you fight, you will fight like you have trained.
3. If you don't yet own a thermal imager, consider investing. Prices have dropped dramatically in the past few years and many manufacturers offer factory-refurbished units as well, if you simply ask. There are ways to handle the cost, but you must indicate the interest.
4. Consider equipping essential positions such as rapid intervention teams and safety officers with thermal imagers. Again, investing in firefighter safety is never a bad idea.
A 2007 study of New Year's resolutions followed 3,000 people who had committed to at least one resolution in the new year. At the start of the study, 52% of participants identified themselves as confident of success. One year later, only 12% actually achieved their goal.
We can't afford that type of success rate. Where most resolutions are betting with pounds lost, ours is betting with lives lost. The stakes are too high. Repetition and focus are key.
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.