Fire departments across North America have been actively buying thermal imagers (TIs) for nine years. As a result, use and coverage of these valuable tools has expanded. But there are also a number of departments that have older TIs they are ready to replace. And replacement begs the common...
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Fire departments across North America have been actively buying thermal imagers (TIs) for nine years. As a result, use and coverage of these valuable tools has expanded. But there are also a number of departments that have older TIs they are ready to replace. And replacement begs the common question, "What do I do with the old one?"
There are several options, including trade-in, retirement or reserve status. This article examines all three options.Trade-Ins
Whenever we buy an expensive item, we still see value in the item, even when it is old and ready to be replaced. This approach probably crosses over from our personal life, such as when we buy a new car. The dealership knows that we have a vehicle we no longer want or need, and offers us a trade-in value to the purchase of the new car.
This market has carried forward to the fire service somewhat. Fire trucks and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) commonly receive a trade-in value, but few other items do. Historically, thermal imagers have fallen into this second category for several reasons. First, unlike used cars, there is a limited market for used TIs. For whatever reason, fire departments prefer buying new equipment to used equipment, especially when it comes to TIs. Second, TIs do not have a "revenue stream." SCBA trade-ins can make sense because the distributor and the manufacturer know that you will be purchasing multiple spare parts and service programs from them. TIs do not have the same level of maintenance (although they are not maintenance-free), so a supplier cannot rely on future revenue.
This does not mean there are no trade-in programs. Some distributors, either on their own or with the support of the manufacturer, will offer a trade-in value for an old TI. Check with your local distributor to learn whether you can trade-in your old TI. These programs are limited, so don't be surprised if the answer is, "No." But it never hurts to ask.Retirement
Sometimes, retirement (or disposal) is the course chosen for items that no longer have value. For example, old turnout gear may be retired and destroyed when a new set arrives. Or, the gear may be donated to a fire department with few financial resources (domestically or abroad). Either way, the gear is removed from service permanently with the fire department that owns it.
This is an option for TIs as well. Obviously, if the TI no longer functions and the imager cannot be repaired cost-effectively, then disposal is probably the primary option. However, if the TI still functions, there may be a rural department in your state that would gratefully accept your "old, used TI" as a "brand-new tool" for them.
In larger departments that aggressively track capital assets, this may require some paperwork and bureaucratic wrangling, but donation can be a good way of helping out our brothers in the fire service who do not have solid financial backing. Keep in mind that if you do donate the TI to a fire department outside the United States, there may be export documentation and restrictions that you will have to follow.Reserve Status
For the majority of departments, moving the TI to reserve status is probably the best option. Remember, just because the TI is old does not necessarily mean that it no longer detects heat. Your department could be upgrading because of new features, a desire for a new supplier or to buy a design that better fits your operations. All of these are valid reasons for buying a new TI, but it has not made the old TI obsolete.
The old model can be moved to a less- active company that may not get a TI otherwise. This expands TI coverage within your department and helps ensure that a TI arrives on a scene as early as possible. Or, a TI could be permanently installed on a reserve truck to help outfit a reserve company with proper tools in case a primary truck is down for extended service.