1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post How are you using Thermal Imaging ?


    Thermal Imagers can do a lot of things and can be used in a number of applications. Unfortunately, some people think thermal imagers are only good for fire suppresion activities.

    Please post the current applications you are using thermal imagers for.

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We've had Cairns Iris for 2 years now and have used it a lot. In routine use we've found hot wires in walls, overheated ballasts, bad extension cords, located a couple water leaks, and found a lost child in a dark wooded area at night.

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Myself and my department have been evaluating cameras for about a year now and we are split between hand held and helmet mounted system. My question is to any of you that have hand held systems. How do you get you partner or victim out of a burning building quickly when you are using a hand held system? If you used the camera going into the building you definatly will want to use it to locate the exit and get out quick, but if you have to drag a 200+lbs person you would need both hands. Right???

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Where the rubber meets the road,

    Good question, it is one thing to sit around and look at things with a thermal imager, it is another to put it into action. Couple of comments

    Big misconception about hand held thermal imagers is that you have to hold them to your face constantly to use them. The best way to use them is to
    1.) Scan the area in front of you, pick a couple of reference points (furniture or structural components) to get you to your next point (doorway or exit point)
    2.) Sling the imager, and move using the reference points to guide you
    3.) Scan and repeat the process as many times as needed.

    If you practice using this method you will find you can move very quickly and accomplish what ever it is you need to do while the unit is slung.
    I also carry a piece of tubular webbing in my turnout gear, so if I have a victim and can drag them out, I girth hitch it around their chest and under their head and drag them out. May be a little rough but it only requires one hand and it works well.

    Hand-Held vs. Hands-Free
    In the very near future, if we are all lucky, 2 things will happen.
    1.) Departments will be able to afford more than one or two thermal imagers. This means departments will be able use a combination of both hands-free and hand-held since they both have applications they excel in and this provides the most flexibility.
    2.) Hands-free units will be better designed and lighter in weight.

    Until that happens, which it should in the next 1-2 years, I would have to strongly recommend a hand-held unit for the following reasons :
    Greatest versatility, they can be easily passed from firefighter to firefighter, that include inside the structure.
    Units with large 4" displays can be viewed by multiple firefighters at once
    Current hands-free units lack the features of current hand-held units such as internal wireless transmitter

    Hand-held units are the way to go for now (unless you are rich and can afford to buy multiple units) and then in a year or two pick up some hands-free units when the technology has developed and there will be more to choose from (all of the major manufacturers will have new hands-free units by the middle of next year). Also the microbolometer technology the hands-free units are based off of is about to go through some major changes over the next year, so buying a microbolometer now is probably not the best thing to do. Hand-held BST based units work well, numerous civilian and firefighter lives have been saved with them, but people seem to forget that when someone mentions hand-free and microbolometer. Microbolometers, or some other from of detector, will replace the BST technology in the future, but it is not time to quit using them yet.

    Also don’t forget it does not matter if you have excellent picture quality, have a temperature display, or if the unit is hands-free or hand-held if the unit is not going to function. Durability should be one of the number one factors in deciding which unit to buy, but it seems to get lost in the conference room sales pitch. You are going to put the unit through “Hell” literally. So until you take them into a burning building and crawl with them, fight fire with them, get them wet, and drop them a time or 2 don’t make a decision based on a conference room presentation talking about picture quality, bells and whistles, and so called durability. I can provide the names of major departments who have been using and beating the crap out of hand-held BST units for over a year with no failures, and they are very happy with the units.

    Another reply on this forum under the evaluation section also talks about hands-free units.

    If you have a hands-free unit and it is working for you great ! Any thermal imager is better than no thermal imager, and the bottom line is doing whatever it takes to save lives.

    Good Luck, Be Safe,

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Boy, luckily you told us you sell Bullard because that was a Bullard sales pitch if I ever heard one!! I beleive the Microbolometer is here to stay and that would explain why all of the hand held manufacturers are coming out with cameras incorporating that technology. The problem is the manufacturers of these cameras don't build them and some of them don't even service them. They are built and sometimes servived by a third party company, so the cost go up and they have no expertise. I have watched this market for a long time and no company has made any changes to the system they produce until recently(including Bullard). As far as the internal transmitter in hands free systems. The Fireflir will have that option available by the end of the year from what I was told. Just one more comment, in a actual search and rescue type mission how often will you pass the system to another firefighter or have firefighters look over your shoulder to look at the screen. Don't we have better things to do!!

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I give up!

    For the second time in about 2 months I have been called a Bullard Salesman, and people are trying to turn this place into a battleground instead of a place for knowledge exchange.

    On second thought I won’t give up and drop to the level some people would probably like me to, so I will make the following comments.

    Yes I do work for Bullard as their Thermal Imaging Training Specialist, it is no secret just look at my information. In response to that :

    I could have just as easily registered with this forum as Joe Blow firefighter and made all of the Bullard sales pitches I wanted, without any recourse. But I chose not to because I thought being honest about my employment would show what my true intentions were, to post information on this website so that firefighters could make an informed decisions about any thermal imaging topic.

    Of course if you review my post here you will find that is what I have tried to do :

    Started topics when of discussion when no one else would (not about Bullard TIs)
    Posted a list of reference material on thermal imaging (in no way pro Bullard)
    Responded to posts providing answers to question (with no comment about a Bullard TI in any way)
    Argued both sides of the issue (not just the one favorable to Bullard)
    I can go on, but if you check it out for yourself it is pretty obvious what my intentions are.

    I have made comments from time to time that can be taken as pro Bullard, but they were not a sales pitch just me passing on information that I have gathered in my experiences working with firefighters. The bottom line is 90 percent of what I have posted is cold hard facts, and the other 10 percent has never been my sole opinion or an effort to sell Bullard.

    As far as being a salesman, I have fourteen years of experience between the military and fire service, none of it is as salesman. My paycheck is in no way affected by the sales of Bullard thermal imagers, but by the amount of material I generate on thermal imaging training and the number of training sessions I conduct.

    I have been both a paid and volunteer firefighter and as such that is where my loyalties lie, with my brothers and sisters I have done battle with, not the corporate suits who would fire me the day I am no longer cost affective.

    I took the job with Bullard so I could continue to do what I love the most, train firefighters, and that is why I put in the effort to post material here.

    I have not called anyone’s post a sales pitch even though the majority of them could be taken as such. I fought in the military to keep this country free, and as such everyone has the right to speak their own opinions, and I have respected that here.

    I would ask the same.

    Firehouse has provided the Fire Service with a great resource for information exchange, lets thank them for it by posting quality material here.

    If anyone feels my comments are inappropriate or useless my email is mike_richardson@bullard.com, lets discuss it there, not here. If Firehouse feels my posts are not worthy of my presence here, then so be it, I will cease to post any more here.

    Sorry space has to be taken up with posts like this.

    Thanks to everyone once again for your efforts to share your thoughts and knowledge with your brothers and sisters.

    Good Luck, Be Safe,

  7. #7
    S. Cook
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Don't give up Mike, I found the part of your posting that can give it away that you work for Bullard "Units with large 4" displays can be viewed by multiple firefighters at once."

    Otherwise you could have been talking about any of them. Including the FireFlir if you held it in your hand instead of mounting on the helmet. I tried it and it works this way too.

    We want big screens on our TVs, not on our imagers.

    I hear FireFlir will be coming out with a handheld soon.

    [This message has been edited by S. Cook (edited October 12, 1999).]

  8. #8
    S. Cook
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Now back to the topic at hand - How are you using Thermal Imaging?

    Beside the normal firefighting use, we assist local law enforcment with searching for persons at night, runaways, crooks, whomever. We have about an 85% success rate within about 5 minutes of arrival. We even used it to spot an arson suspect after a fire.

    Anyway, it usually goes like this -

    LAW - we got a guy out here in the woods, he ain't armed or anything, we just need to find him. We've been looking for a few hours.

    FD - OK, no sweat, just let the imager warm up and - there he is.

    LAW - no way, we've been walking past that spot all night.

    PERP - How'd you find me?


    LAW - we got a guy out here in the woods, he's got a gun

    FD - OK, see this green button, that turns it on. This is the front and this is the back. Here's a spare battery if you need it. We'll be over here in the truck if you need anything else.

  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Their are thousands of uses for thermal imaging cameras. We have used it to find bodies thrown from vehicles and once we used it to find limbs that were severed in accidents. All you need to do is be creative.

  10. #10
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We use our T.I.C. for all the uses listed abo
    ve.Our problem is getting the other 6 F.D.'s
    who are all within 5 miles of our station to
    utilize this valuable tool.I hope they get ed
    ucated on T.I.C. use before it's to late.

  11. #11
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I would recommend that they contact the manufacturer of the cameras they have and see about getting some training. If training is not offered then that might be something all department should review prior to purchasing any cameras. The more educated you are on about how the cameras function internally the more uses you will find.

  12. #12
    Firehouse.com Guest


    What do the rest of you think ?

    I find IR's comment to be one that is being echoed by many firefighters. However, I also find that to be disturbing. I say that because when you purchase another piece of firefighting equipment you do not call up the manufacturer or distributor and ask them for training. You do not learn forcible entry from the guy who sold you an ax or haligan. The guy that sold you hose and nozzles does not teach you fire attack. A thermal imager is a tool, and you get your training on how to use a firefighting tool from your local fire training organizations.

    So why are firefighters not looking to their local training agencies for training on thermal imaging ?

    A huge part of my job is to work with training agencies, so they can in turn, work with firefighters on thermal imaging. Unfortunately some of the agencies also seem to want to leave the training up to the manufacturers.

    Any manufacturer should provide a basic orientation on the unit you purchased. It should cover things such as operating procedures and maintenance. They should also cover the basics of thermal imaging, but that should be it, “in my opinion”.

    The "applications" portion needs to be covered by the agency that does all of the other "application" training for the department. This will insure that the imager is treated as a tool and it is incorporated into the rest of activities the department will carry out just like any other new tool.

    I do not think it is job of an equipment manufacturer to teach you how to be a firefighter or teach you what your strategies and tactics should be for thermal imaging. I think more fire service training agencies need to incorporate this type of training into all of their classes where it is appropriate. The manufacturers must cover the basics, support the training agencies, and support their end users, but they should not have to become thermal imaging training agencies.

    I understand thermal imaging is new and the technical nature of it is significantly more than anything currently being used in the fire service. But that does not mean fire department training agencies can not cover the material. Until thermal imaging is taught in the basic firefighting course in will not really reach it's full potential and ability to save a life. I have always advocated sticking to the basics, because a thermal imager can fail, so you must be capable of operating with out, but when is thermal imaging going to quit being a specialized tool or skill and become part of the basics just like fire attack or forcible entry ? I also understand that every department does not have a thermal imager, so many training agencies may feel it is not of any value to teach someone something about a piece of equipment they do not have. However, I think if more firefighters had first hand experience of what a thermal imager can do it would raise the overall awareness level and motivate more people to get them into service.

    I am not saying manufacturers should be able to duck out of conducting or supporting training, but the emphasis needs to shift from the manufacturer to the local or state training agencies.

    A lot of imagers are dropped of at the front door with no further support or training. That is wrong and no manufacturer or distributor should be doing that.

    Good Luck, Be Safe

    *Note : We are doing a lot to support training. If you would like the details, please email me. I do not want to post anything specific here for fear of it being called a sales pitch.

    Also remember, nothing is free, if you want and get intensive hands-on training, the manufacturer has to pay for it somehow, so chances are you are paying for it, it is just buried in the price of the unit. A certain manufacturer was providing hands on training but they also had the highest price on the market.

    There are a number of excellent organizations out there that do thermal imaging training , some are free, some charge, if you know of one, check out the new topic and post some info there.

  13. #13
    S. Cook
    Firehouse.com Guest


    To be honest, if I'm going to spend 15K to 20K on a piece of equipment, somebody should come and show me how it works, what it will do and how to care for it. They do with extrication equipment.

    Imaging is new technology and each one works differently.

    When evaluated imagers and went to a workshop on them, I wasn't impressed with the level of training we recieved, mostly because it was a sales pitch for one vs the others. As a result, we didn't ask for any additional training. However, if we weren't shown how to interpret the image in that class (almost as an afterthought on the instructors part), we might have lost four firefighters later.


  14. #14
    Firehouse.com Guest


    If anyone should realize the value of training it is Scott. (see his other posts)

    Here goes another analogy:

    You spend $200-500,000 on a new piece of fire apparatus.

    The manufacturer does not give you a class on :
    Pump Operations & Hydraulics
    Emergency Vehicle Driving
    Hose Loads and Hose Lays

    Should they give you a class on the basics :
    How to turn it on
    How to engage the pump
    How to operate the aerial device
    In other words, the basic operating procedures

    You bet on it!

    If you are not getting the basics from the manufacturers let them and everyone else know about it. This is one of the other areas many people forget to check on when they think about buying an imager.

    I still say the local and state training agency need to pick up the ball and run with it. Yes there are differences in units, but there are differences in SCBA design and function, they still train on the basic operating procedures and how to incorporate them into operations. The manufacturers should teach you how to change the battery, set up the receiver, and understand the basics of thermal imaging. But it is not up to them to right the SOPs, incorporate the unit into the tactics, and teach you how to fight fire with an imager.

    I constantly here the question, when will the price come down on thermal imagers ?
    It is coming down as we speak, because more players are in the market and the fact that the volume of business has gone up so manufacturers like Raytheon are discounting their prices. However once again, no one is going to do intensive hands-on training for a manufacturer for free. The expenses involved in training, especially when you start talking about national travel, can be outrageous. Do not forget about the liability issues as well. You will not find anyone doing training or consulting that does not carry millions of dollars in liability insurance. The majority of intensive hands-on training that manufacturers are providing is being contracted out to firefighters who charge anywhere from $1,500-3,000 a session, plus expenses. All of these expenses are not going to be "eaten" by the manufacturer, they will simply get passed on to the buyer in one way or another. Like it or not, (I think it stinks) it is the reality of big business. They are in business to make money !

    They do have a responsibility to cover the basics and support their users, and that should be included in the current price. This means they should have the intensive hands-on training available as an option, if you are willing to pay for it (be up front about it do not hide it, we need “Saturn pricing”, not this crap where the list price is just an inflated number they can discount to make you think you are getting a “special deal”). They should support the training agencies with technical information, training materials, and last but not least discounted or free imagers.

    Manufacturers are in the business of building and selling products, not training people, that is why you tend to get a sales pitch from them and not solid training information. Training agencies train people, and have countless years of experience doing it well, so they should be suited to give you the quality training you need. The manufacturers need to support their users and their training agencies (why I was hired), but "it is my opinion" everyone will better suited in the long run if everyone does what they do best. Let the manufacturers make them and sell them, let the training agencies train you how to use them in firefighting.

    Once again, I think the current level of training being provided by some manufacturers is pathetic at best. If you are experiencing this let others know so they can take their business else where. I also think the current level of cooperation between some manufacturers and training agencies is also pathetic at best. But I think that relationship will only change when you demand it of both parties. Let them know what you want, good realistic hands-on thermal imaging training, and if you do not get it, go somewhere where you can (see the post on training to get ideas where you can)

    It is not perfect, and the whole field of thermal imaging has grown faster in sales than it has support. Some manufacturers have realized this and are trying to correct it. Find out who they are and work with them.

    Good Luck, Be Safe,

  15. #15
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I'M sorry if I wasn't real clear above.My
    dept.is the only one in our TWP. to have a
    T.I.C.and our people have been training reg-ularly for about a year with the unit.The
    other depts.were sent a letter inviting them
    to come and see the unit and what it can do.
    To this day only two of the remaing six have
    shown any interest.It's kind of scary in this
    day and age people wouldn't want to use or
    even see something that can be used to save
    lives and prevent unnecssary property damage.
    But we will keep training and trying to open
    their eyes to this amazing tool.

  16. #16
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Glad to hear you guys are training regularly.

    Sorry to hear the others are not interested.

    That still confuses me to no end as well, why someone would not be interested in this technology. Of course the Fire Service is not known as being the most progressive organization. Plus, I think a lot of people are just perceiving the talk on thermal imaging as a sales pitch or trendy fad. However seeing is believing, and if you ever get to use an imager on a regular basis you will never want to operate without one again. Why do think more people are not interested in using thermal imagers ?

    If you guys, or anyone else, knows of training that is open to the public, or you know of training materials that are available please post it under the training topic. I am sure some people would also like to hear what you are doing for training.

    Keep up the good work, no doubt it will pay off soon !

    Good Luck, Be Safe,

    [This message has been edited by TIMan (edited October 26, 1999).]

  17. #17
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Back to the subject, Uses For Thermal Imaging

    It is not fire fighting, but you gota love it !

    An industrial customer just bought a thermal imager. Not for their fire brigade, not so they could check for overheating equipment, but so they can track and find bats ! They want to locate the bat's nesting sites on their property so they can eliminate them because the employees are complaining about them being there. I am sure they will use it for other things, but that just goes to show the uses are truly only limited by the imagination.

    Speaking of bats and such, they are also using thermal imagers to identify vampires. You got it, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” has added a thermal imager to her arsenal of vampire fighting weapons. Seems that vampires do not emit any infrared radiation , so they are easy to spot with an imager. You can check out the episodes in November.

    On a serious note, students at Eastern Kentucky University, Fire & Safety Program, are looking at using thermal imagers for bombing crime scene investigations. The preliminary work has shown that fragmentation patterns can be readily identified up to 30 minutes after the explosion has occurred. As soon as a formal write up is available I will post the information on it here.

    As always,

    Good Luck, Be Safe,

  18. #18
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I agree with TIMAN, it would be great if every state conducted training on thermal imaging cameras, but not every department or state feels that the cameras are a required tool. So, until every department has one I think the manufacturer should perform an unbias training class for about three days. They should go over the system in detail and how it works. Plus, do some live burn training, so we can see how it performs and to make sure the camera is operating properly. They are the experts on the camera. I don't think a department should have to pay for training because we are already strapped for cash as it is, so this will push department away from getting into the technology. Also, the manufactuer shouldn't change the your departments SOP's, but should offer ideas on how to use the camera. Remember the camera is a tool to help us to our job, not replace the basics.

  19. #19
    S. Cook
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I think 3 days may be too much unless your talking about a paid dept. where you would need to coaver all shifts.

    One day should be plenty. Have training materials that you can leave for those that attended to teach those that didn't as well as for new folks joining the dept.

  20. #20
    Firehouse.com Guest


    My dept recently purchased 18 Bullards(Not because of TIMan's posts) they are on all ladder trucks and Battalion Chief's buggies. I pull that thing out when ever i get the chance, its a new toy and works great. Glad they didnt get the helmet mounted ones..

  21. #21
    Firehouse.com Guest


    A very good discussion.

    I would like to point out that training is the KEY! Our department (Charlottesville, VA) conducted a one day session that seemed to work very well. Talk about theory, interpreting the heat signatures, identify the limitations/dangers, then actual practical hands on exercises.

    We now have our TIC sop online and you can find it on our website at www.cfdonline.org

    Our newest change is that we are mandating that officers take the TIC in on all "sounded" or "box" alarms regardless of a working incident. This is done primarily as a practice run. They are encouraged to turn it on, look at the bldg as they go through. This makes it a routine task. There is nothing better in the training area than repetition!


    Your TIC Moderator.


  22. #22
    Firehouse.com Guest


    thermal immager question : what are used cairns iris thermal immagers selling for ?

    please email any info you have to me at : Dcaptain@aol.com

    thanks all

    visit us at Dcaptain's place : http://members.aol.com/Dcaptain/index.html

  23. #23
    Firehouse.com Guest



  24. #24
    Firehouse.com Guest



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