The Thermal Imager And Accountability

At most incidents, even relatively small ones, chiefs and officers face a difficult task of maintaining accountability for firefighters working at the scene. A number of tagging and marking systems are available to assist fire officers in tracking...


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Firefighters can discuss options they have to make their gear unique, and therefore recognizable, for their officer. For example, firefighters who carry wooden wedges on their helmets can all carry them on the left, pointed toward the rear, to help identify them as a unit. Remember, shapes will be more evident with the TI under normal fire conditions.

Final Report

Tracking individual firefighters with a TI can be challenging. Unique identifiers may blend into the thermal scenery, making individual identification difficult. But, fire officers can use TIs to track firefighters in their overall tasks: an officer can verify that he entered with four members, advanced to the attic with four members and there are four members working in the attic. As always, planning and practice will greatly contribute to the success chiefs and fire officers have in using the TI to maintain firefighter accountability.

For more ideas on using the TI for accountability, visit the Technology Section of Firehouse.com.


Jonathan Bastian is a thermal imaging training consultant for Bullard. He is certified as a thermal imaging instructor by the Law Enforcement Thermographers' Association (LETA), the international public safety organization specializing in thermal imager certification and training. He is also the author of the FD Training Network "FireNotes" book, Thermal Imaging for the Fire Service. Educated at Brown University and licensed as a high school teacher in Illinois, Bastian served 12 years on the North Park, IL, Fire Department, including the last three as a captain. As health and safety officer, he led the development and implementation of the department's rapid intervention team SOG. Bastian is a certified Fire Instructor I and Firefighter III, and he spent 12 years as an EMT-I/D. 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 info@bullard.com.