Thermal Imaging: “Image Freezing”: The Myth Of Moving Too Fast

You’ve likely experienced it before. You’re moving quickly down a hallway at a residential structure fire, occasionally glancing at the thermal imager (TI) in order to keep track of adjacent rooms and accountability with your team, when you see the...


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The second influence for NUC is in the transition of gain states. When an imager switches from high gain (ambient temperatures) to low gain (fire temperatures), the sensitivity of the pixels themselves is being electronically changed. Because of this, it is necessary to perform an NUC as a first step in the new gain state. This happens regardless of switching from low gain to high gain or from high gain back to low gain. After the confirmatory NUC at gain switch, the imager will revert to software/firmware control on an as-needed basis.

There is nothing you can do to stop this from happening and there is nothing you can do to make it any faster. The only thing you do that has any effect on NUC whatsoever is to cause the imager to change gain states. If you look at the fire and then look away, this will cause two NUCs. Otherwise, it will occur on its own.

Complicating matters is the fact that first-generation thermal imagers did not have this issue, so if you were originally trained on an older TI, you likely never saw this image freezing. Of course, if you remember, first-generation TIs were also susceptible to white-out at high temperatures and were not as rugged and durable as TIs in the market today.

The bottom line is this: it is normal and it has nothing to do with how quickly you are moving. These types of thoughts can lead to a belief that using the TI will slow you down or is inefficient, which lead many people to leave the TI on the truck where it does no good. Take the TI with you and use it. With the exception of your personal protective equipment, the TI is the next most important thing to saving your life or the life of another. n