Whatever deployment model your department chooses, it will have a significant effect on how thermal imagers are used and implemented. As you move up in deployment model (from one to four), more money is required, but thermal imaging can be a "force multiplier." When a TI is used to save a life, the payback is immediate.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) now cites thermal imaging in its firefighter line-of-duty-death investigations, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is developing a standard, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is working on qualitative and repeatable testing, and manufacturers are always trying to turn out new technology with lower price points, all in an effort to get more TIs into the field.
Thermal imagers are now within the budgetary grasp of every fire department. Falling prices allow for a department without a TI to obtain one, and the department with a TI can advance in the deployment models. As more and more TIs make their way into the fire service, consider what your deployment model says about your intentions and plan strategically as you position your equipment in readiness for combat.
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.