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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A reserve TI can also be maintained in case a front-line TI goes down with damage or for preventive maintenance. The reserve can be placed on the front-line company until the normally assigned TI returns to service. Additionally, a reserve TI can be assigned to the training academy, allowing instructors to monitor training drills more safely.
The primary challenge in reserve status is that a department could have two or three technologies from different manufacturers (or even the same manufacturer). As such, image interpretation, feature usage, and overall training and proficiency can differ. A training program needs to cover these differences to help avoid misinterpretation or misuse of the TI.Conclusion
Expansion of TI usage in the fire service is great for firefighters, as it improves their ability to operate safely. It is also great for the public, as it can reduce property loss and increase rescue success. As fire departments buy more TIs, they face a challenge of what to do with the old ones. Trade-in may be an option, but there is a limited market for TI trade-ins. Retirement is also an option, especially if the department is well-equipped with TIs. It can donate unneeded equipment to help equip less-fortunate departments. However, for most departments, the best option will be to place the old TI into a reserve status, expanding coverage or ensuring coverage when a front-line TI goes down.
JONATHAN BASTIAN is a thermal imaging specialist for Bullard. He is certified as a thermal imaging instructor by the Law Enforcement Thermographers' Association (LETA). He is also the author of the FD Training Network "FireNotes" book, Thermal Imaging for the Fire Service. Bastian served 12 years on the North Park, IL, Fire Department, including the last three as a captain. He has taught classes on thermal imaging, rapid intervention teams and search and rescue operations. He is currently a public safety official in Central Kentucky. If you have questions about thermal imaging, please send them to email@example.com.