Thermal Imagers: Training for Safety – Part 1

Every month, this column emphasizes how a thermal imager (TI) can make a firefighter’s job easier and safer. This month’s column is the first installment of a three-part series that concentrates on training firefighters to use their TIs in a...


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Thermal imagers are regularly touted as life-saving tools, and deservedly so. However, the key to successful and safe usage is proper planning and training. Fire departments need to be aware of the general limitations of thermal imaging technology, as well as some of the natural risks that users encounter when using a TI at an emergency scene. By acknowledging the risks and training to combat them, firefighters can ensure that they have the greatest chance for success and safety on the job.

For tips on safely navigating through a structure with a TI, visit the Technology section of Firehouse.com. Next month’s Firehouse® Magazine column will examine the second deadly sin, Abandoning Traditional Safe-Search Techniques.


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.