Thermal Imaging Training: Non-Fire Size-up

Experienced firefighters know that a quality size-up effort at an emergency incident helps ensure that firefighters take quick, efficient steps towards rectifying the emergency. While firefighters normally think of size-up primarily in conjunction with...


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Consider, though, what might have happened if the fire department had arrived just minutes after the collision. Not only could the TI have helped them identify that the vehicle had recently left the roadway, but they could also have scanned the shoreline and the hillside to look for victims who may have been ejected from the vehicle. The TI may have also helped them identify whether they had a fluid leak (especially gasoline), where it may be flowing and what additional risks this posed for firefighters as well as the environment.

Final Report

This real success story occurred because the fire department placed TIs on front-line companies. Since these officers are trained to bring the thermal imager on most calls, the TI came off the apparatus early in the incident. Last, the person using the TI understood how the TI worked, and he had realistic expectations of how it could help with size-up at this scene. This type of confidence and quality usage only occurs when firefighters actually train with their TIs.

Editor’s Note: Due to an editing mistake, Jonathan Bastian’s March 2006 Thermal Imaging Training column, “Getting the Most from Your Wireless Transmitter,†contained an unintended error. Wireless transmitters send a 300-400 milliwatt signal, not a “300-400 megawatt signal†as published in the article. Firehouse® regrets the error and any confusion it may have caused.


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 jonathan_bastian@bullard.com.