Developing a Thermal Imaging Training Program

For more than two years, this column has presented numerous training tips to help firefighters use their thermal imagers (Tis) more effectively. Short, practical training exercises were provided with the intention of improving user understanding and...


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Microsoft PowerPoint has become a mainstay of fire instruction. PowerPoint provides the instructor an easy way to customize training for large numbers of students, without demanding extensive physical resources. Creating a PowerPoint presentation from scratch can be a grueling, time-consuming process. Department leaders must acknowledge that internal program developers will have to commit a considerable amount of time to creating the basic training presentation. Additionally, the presentation will be much more effective with relevant visuals embedded in it. This means that photographs of the TI in use, as well as thermal images, need to be gathered, edited and placed. For optimal effectiveness, the developer should embed small thermal imaging video clips to illustrate real-life use of the technology.

Program development not only takes time, but also the technology to carry it out. Developers will need access to computers and software powerful enough to create the presentation, catalog photographs and edit video clips from raw TI footage. A full-featured video editing program, such as Adobe Premiere, can cost more than $500. Developers will also need access to ancillary technology that will allow them to collect all of the media needed for the presentation. Digital cameras and digital video recorders make the transition to computer easier; a wireless transmitter or hardwire video connection makes TI image capture possible.

Perhaps the most important component of internal development is using the right people for the task. Development may be entrusted to a team of three or four people, or borne solely on the shoulders of one poor soul. The developer must be computer-savvy and comfortable with all of the technological aspects of development, as well as the technological aspects of thermal imaging.

Conclusion

A number of high-quality resources are available to fire departments seeking formal TI training. Externally, a fire department can consider statewide training organizations, private training companies or TI manufacturers. Use of each of these potential sources offers advantages and disadvantages. If the fire department chooses internal development, it must commit an adequate amount of time, the proper technology and the right people in order to create a good program.

For additional insight on the type of commitment needed for internal development, visit the Technology section of Firehouse.com. Next month, this column will discuss the steps to developing a TI training program in-house.


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 police officer in Lexington, KY. If you have questions about thermal imaging, please send them to jonathan_bastian@bullard.com.