1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Lightbulb New Jersey Thermal Imager Bill

    If I understand correctly, there is now a new bill which has passed in New Jersey allowing funds for each FD to purchase one thermal imaging camera. I am not sure of the specifics..if anyone can fill me and the others in with all the details, that would be cool. This is a great thing for fire departments who couldnt afford to drop 15-20,000 on a camera. Hopefully it will save many lives and aid in fast and efficient fire knockdown. Thanks to New Jersey for thinking about its firefighters!

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I was at the bill signing yesterday. The bill basically allows for matching funds of 50% of the total cost of a thermal imager, for all FDs in NJ.It looks like some municipalities may not have to pay the 50%. The way the money will be dispersed is not 100 % clear. I think it will be a matter of applying for it when the time is right. - best regards to all - HPOne
    PS: Here is a copy of the article on the Bill SIgning from The Bergen Record web Page:

    N.J. OKs $7.5M for special fire cameras
    Tuesday, October 5, 1999

    Trenton Bureau

    Firefighters who now must crawl on their hands and knees through a burning building to locate trapped individuals may soon be able to use a special thermal-imaging camera, thanks to a bill signed into law Monday by Governor Whitman.

    The state will make $7.5 million available for local fire departments to buy the cameras, which detect body heat and also can be used to locate the source of a fire.

    "The thermal-imaging camera is a valuable tool that can help save both the lives of those trapped in a burning building and the lives of the men and women trying to put the fire out," Whitman said.

    The cameras are expensive, ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 apiece. The $7.5 million would pay the full cost of about 460 cameras. State officials were not saying Monday how they would divide the money throughout the state, other than to say local fire departments or their municipal governments would have to apply for the money.

    The bill enacted into law also allows the state to require local municipalities to match some portion of the state grant with their own funds. Requiring a local match contribution might increase the number of cameras that eventually can be purchased.

    Citing reports from firemen, legislators said the cameras are the most significant technological advancement in fire fighting since the two-way radio.

    "Even in the thickest, blackest smoke, a thermal-imaging camera can detect body heat or locate the source of a fire," said Assemblyman Christopher Bateman, R-Somerset, a prime sponsor.

    Other sponsors included Assemblyman Peter J. Biondi, R-Somerset, and Assemblywoman Marion Crecco, R-Essex.

    "Firefighters scouring a building for a possible victim normally conduct the search on their hands and knees, advancing a few feet at a time through blackened, unfamiliar rooms," Biondi said. "Executed with the help of a thermal-imaging camera, that same search would take a fraction of the time, reducing the firefighters' exposure to toxic smoke and other dangerous conditions."

    William Cane, director of the Division of Fire Safety, said his office will extend bids to vendors of the cameras, and expects to begin ordering the equipment by the beginning of next year. Municipalities and local fire departments will be notified when it is time for them to apply.

    Copyright © 1999 Bergen Record Corp.

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Latest gossip is that the matching funds is out, will be outright grant for low bid.

    Bullard appears to be low bid.

    One unit per 25,000 in population.

    Contact NJ Dept. of Community Affairs, Division of Fire Safety for more info

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    The word I heard was also that Bullard had been awarded the bid for some ridiculously low price of approx. $7,600 per unit. The question I have is how did they manage to shave almost $11,000 off of their basic unit IF this is true ??

    TIMan where are you ??

    Joe Pechacek
    Hamilton, NY

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I guess Bullard lowered price based on expected delivery of 500+ units.

    I have heard speculation that Bullard will be coming out with new unit in 2000 and is clearing inventory, however, this is pure speculation.

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Hello All,

    Sorry for the absence, I have been to 3 different states in the last 2 weeks, no internet access. I would make the following comments on New Jersey for now :

    Bullard did have the low bid, though the award is not official yet. The final decision should be delivered in the next 2 weeks.

    The last word I had departments would have 3 choices :
    Seek reimbursement for a unit the department already has. The amount reimbursed will be the amount of the Bullard bid.

    Accept a Bullard TI at no charge.

    Buy a new thermal imager (other than Bullard) and seek reimbursement for the amount of the Bullard bid.

    The number of units a department will be eligible for will be based on a formula, I do not believe an exact formula has been approved yet.

    Yes the amount Bullard bid was significantly lower than its standard price. This was for the following reasons :
    Certain manufacturers have made it clear they will sell units at a price below cost just to get high profile sales. Since Jersey was most likely going to come down to price Bullard did not want to lose out just based on price.

    This price was to show agencies that there is a significant benefit in buying large quantities of units versus granting money to departments so they can but 1 or 2 units at a time.

    The price was based on a large, 500 + unit, volume purchase.

    If anyone else would like to buy 500 units I am sure you can get the same price.

    As far as dumping inventory :
    Bullard builds each unit to order so there is no inventory to dump.

    Bullard has no intentions of ceasing production of the current unit, regardless of a new unit being released. The current unit works well, no reason to stop producing it, just because a new unit may become available.

    As soon as everything is official I will post the details, unless someone from New Jersey is willing to post the info.

    I hope other States will see the benefit of undertaking a large scale purchase like this.

    Of course do not forget about the federal efforts as well. The Fire Service obviously can never get to much funding. The info on the Federal effort is below, please write, call, or email your Congressional reps.

    Access to Thermal Imaging Cameras Act
    HR 1839 Rep. Bob Franks (NJ)
    Description: A bill to authorize the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make grants to fire departments for the acquisition of thermal imaging cameras. Status: Introduced on May 19, 1999. Referred to House Committee on Ways and Means.

    The Congressional Fire Services Institute has a website at www.cfsi.org. These gentlemen, and ladies, are trying to keep the Lawmakers informed of the needs of the Fire Service. I hate politics, but it is game we are going to have to play if we want a chunk of the “Federal Funding Pie”. The CFSI only has a voice as loud as we are willing to make it.

    Good Luck, Be Safe,

  7. #7
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I have question for TIMAN. My department is getting ready to buy about 20 TICs and we are evaluating all TICs on the market. Will the current Bullard on the market be able to be upgraded to your new one model? If not, when will the new one be out? I will have big problems if I recommend the Bullard that is out now and then you come out with a new and improved model later. I feel that's very important for technology such as this to be upgradeable and I hope all manuf. take this into account. My department as well as most department don't have the money to buy new TICs every couple years to keep up with technology. To the best of my knowledge no hand held system is upgradeable as far as new features etc and please correct if I'm wrong.

  8. #8
    Firehouse.com Guest


    My contribution to this forum is not intended to answer the question posed to TIMan, but to refute the idea that there is not an upgradable handheld TIC on the market.

    Upgradablity in a TIC can take many different forms.

    When a manufacturer makes a significant change in the technology utilized to make the thermal image, that would require changing virtually the entire camera, and hence, a significant cost. There are predominantly two types of TIC technologies available today:
    1)Raytheon/Texas Instruments based "BST" systems (Bullard, Scott, FRC, ISI & ISG)
    2) microbolometer systems (ICC FireOptic, FireFLIR & Cairns Viper)

    Of these two types of TIC technologies, the microbolometer has the greatest promise for upgradability. This upgradability comes from the method by which the camera makes an image, and that is predominantly via user definable software. The means by which this upgradability is implemented is then up to the camera manufacturer.

    We have designed the FireOptic for future upgradability and are currently evaluating a software upgrade which provides a greater level of image clarity and better definition of the scene under the widest set of operational conditions. We provide these software upgrades free of charge during any covered warranty period (currently 2 years).

    I also believe that FLIR provides software upgrades as part of their customer support program, but I do not know the details for sure.

    This resistance to obsolescence is one of the key factors we learned from speaking to customers.

    Tom Clynne
    President - ICC

  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest


    TIMAN... any chance of NJ departments buying add ons at the state bid price? Our town looks to get 2, but with 6 companies and the fact that we bought one last year, I doubt we'll get a freebie.

  10. #10
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I talked to a ret. Chief in NJ that's a friend of mine and he mentioned that two TICs were awarded the bid. The Bullard for the handheld and the fireflir for the helmet system.

  11. #11
    Firehouse.com Guest


    $11,000 discount regardless of quantity is obsene! What does this show us?

    a. New Jersey depts. are very lucky to have a state that cares about their fire fighters.

    b. The rest of us are getting ripped off!
    A 20 or 30 percent discount is understandable
    the rest is just gouging.

    A note to NJ depts. if it is true that you can buy an additional unit for $900 more than the bid price. BUY IT then if you don't really need it, Our dept will happilly give you a 20% profit on the deal, many others would to.

  12. #12
    Firehouse.com Guest


    According to a meeting I was in last night, the 2 helmet mounted cameras (Flir and Cairns) had their bids thrown out due to deviating from the spec.

    Supposedly the Bullards will start delivery later this year, the application process is being hammered out now. Those of you from other states should lobby your government for something similar. It's not too often the fire service gets something like this, its a great thing!

  13. #13
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Hello All,

    I apologize for the delay in responding, I have been out of the office for 2 weeks straight and lost my remote access to the internet and email. I will have about 2 hours to make as many replies as possible and then it will be back out on the road again, hopefully with my remote access working, if I disappear again from the forum or do not respond to your email assume it did not get fixed.

    I guess I should respond to the NJ comments first. As I have said in the past my function at Bullard is training. I have little or no part in sales or marketing, and I do everything I can to keep it that way because I have no desire to become a salesman. As such my knowledge of the NJ details is limited, but I would make the following comments :

    The NJ bid is very significant for a number of reasons including profit and prestige. As such each manufacturer ‘pulled out the stops” in order to get the business. Since the bid spec was very lose and the manufacturer’s meet it without any major exceptions the deciding factor was going to be price. Since certain manufacturer’ s have shown their willingness in the past to sell imagers at prices below $10,000 it was evident the winner would have to go very low. Bottom line, this is why the price ended up being so low, and Bullard was not the only manufacturer to offer a price below $10,000. Right or wrong it is the reality of big business. Some people may not be happy, but my guess is it may drive prices down all over the market, if it does everyone will benefit, so it may not be a bad thing after all (as far as you are concerned, not necessarily the manufacturers).

    The more lucrative this market is the more emphasis it will receive. This means more competition, which means lower prices and better products, all of which benefit the Fire Service. If there is no money to be made in thermal imaging, interest will go, and if the market becomes a monopoly of 1 or 2 manufacturers they can then sit back and name their price. Remember how it was when the Argus and the Iris were the only 2 units on the market ?

    As far as upgrades go I think Mr. Clynne did a good job of hitting the high points, I would add the following comments :

    Bullard will be offering an upgrade package to its customers beginning this week. It will include the following :
    1.) A new outer shell which will have :
    field replaceable straps
    a higher bump guard for the on / off
    a modified battery compartment which
    will not allow the door to shut if the
    battery is inserted the wrong way
    2.) A new “direct charge” system which will allow the battery to be charged while it is in the unit, like your radio or flashlight.
    3.) Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries

    This is an example of how a unit may be upgraded, and how Bullard will respond to concerns and comments from end users.

    However, as Mr. Clynne pointed out it would not be practical to take an existing Bullard TI and replace the BST core with a Microbolometer core. Bullard, as should every other manufacturer, will make every effort to keep their units as upgradeable as possible, but there are limits.

    As I said earlier, as soon as I get my hands on an official document from NJ I will post the info here, until then I will decline any further comments.

    Good Luck, Be Safe,

    PS : Bullard is also shipping a 30 minute orientation / training video with all of its new units and will be sending out a copy to all of its current users.

  14. #14
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I remember reading recently that someone was challenging the NJ bids on the imager.

    Does anyone know who is doing this?

    Nothing stated in this post has been approved by or is the position of my employer or VFD. It is only my opinion.

  15. #15
    Firehouse.com Guest


    A company out of Fairlawn NJ.. not sure who, but I thought I heard they had very limited fire service experience

  16. #16
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I believe it’s the company that manufactures the cameras for FRC. One thing most people don’t realize is the majority of the companies marketing cameras don’t make the entire device. They contract out to a specialty company for the guts then add a view screen, a couple of buttons and wrap it in helmet plastic or some other material.

    Rob Donnan
    Captain, Metuchen FD
    President, Jersey Fire & Rescue

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