I agree with Mr Little. I have read the Navy report and I think their is some usueful information to look at when evaluating cameras. However, the most important thing to do is look at all of them yourself and if possible take them into live burns and compare them. That's when you will see the difference. You want to buy a camera based on technology, customer service, and the future. We know how computers work and we don't want something out dated and not upgradable. Also, as I've said in many previous posts training is the most important thing and should be included in your purchase!!!! As far as TIMAN's comments, I think we should just move on. It's obvious that Bullard didn't fare to well in the report, so we could spend hours debating the report on what the Navy did or what they could have done, but I think we should post usuful information here and not dwell on it. Everyone has a right to an opinion and that's that. We don't want to discourage users of this forum because people aren't happy with the findings of a report that wasn't even supposed to be used in the way it's currently being used.
[This message has been edited by IRalltheway (edited December 21, 1999).]
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Thread: evaluations of imagers
12-21-1999, 08:23 PM #21IRallthewayFirehouse.com Guest
12-22-1999, 05:00 AM #22S. CookFirehouse.com Guest
I was given a copy of the Navy Report by ISG at the KC I-Chiefs show and these posts have finally prompted me to scrutinize it.
On the contrary to IRalltheway, the Bullard faired resonably well, failing only 3 "hard requirements," size, the battery being able to be inserted wrong and a radio interference. The others are purely subjective depending on the user, can't see the battery indicator, etc...).
We use the Bullard camera and I was wondering what the Navy found wrong with it. After reviewing the results of the Navy tests and comparing them with/to my actual field (fire ground operations and training) with it, with the exception of requirements 2 & 4, I'm still scratching my head.
Here's the parts the Bullard failed according to the Navy report -
- Requirements 2 and 4 related to size. The Bullard is larger than they want.
- Requirement 6 regarding image clarity. Not sure how clear they want it. Our Bullard has a clearer image than one of the cameras that I used at a fire yesterday, one that is reported to have passed this section.
- Requirement 7 regarding it being usable by either hand. OK, the Bullard hand strap is on the right side, but the handle is ambidextrous.
- Requirement 9 regarding the battery status indicator. Reportedly, the large green and red battery status lights running down beside the left side of the screen are not easy to see. Get real...
- Requirement 11 regarding being able to put the battery in only the right way. The Bullard uses a motorola type battery that can be put in wrong: that's probably why they put the directions on the battery. It's interesting to note that the report also states the desired (ref. Navy report req. 8) AA battery pack can be loaded incorrectly in the ISG camera also, but it passed this requirement - I presume because the rechargeable batteries will only go in one way.
- Requirement 25 regarding RF interference. Reportedly, the Bullard lost its image when a standard motorola radio was keyed next to it. I've never had this problem, but to be fair, I'm not fighting a fire in an enclosed steel ship compartment either. Why are the other cameras going to be tested later on this according to table 3? Did they all fail?
It's also interesting to note that the ISG is reported to have passed every requirement but, when we scrutinize the report we find that:
- It whited out due to rapid heat change during fire suppression in the vertical bravo test- failing the requirements of item 3.
- It briefly whited out due to rapid heat change in the vertical alpha test (no suppression in this test).
- One camera was not operational within the 30 seconds with a rechargeable battery after turning on as requirement 5 stipulates.
- One of the cameras failed the submersion test of requirement 12.
- Very quick white outs are reported under summary for requirement 18 in the vertical and horizontal alpha tests and vertical bravo tests.
- Swing or drop hazard when using the strap: "swung wild" or "swung wildly" or "swing hazard" being the common comment. This also indicates a failure of requirement 21 that states "this harness shall not allow the camera to swing uncontrollably" regardless, it passed this requirement too.
It was also interesting to note in the report that the Bullard and the Scott are the only ones reported to have failed the RF portion of the test. All other cameras will be tested at a later date according to table 3.
So what's my point?
Well, the Navy did what seems to be a thorough evaluation of several imagers based on what they need/want, and we and the manufacturer reps bashing each other here can argue about the report until the cows come home. I still have some questions about their findings, but I'll wait until the next one comes out before asking.
The report has some technical information that is nice to know, but after evaluating, trying out, looking over (or whatever you want to call it) many of the different TICs available, my advice is do not use this report to buy your imager (as all posters have made clear). All the imagers listed in it have their pros and cons and one may be more suitable for your department needs and budget. Don't go buy an ISG because the Navy likes it, don't buy a Cairns because Vegas has them, don't buy a Scott because Houston bought them and don't buy a Bullard because we have one.
In fact, don't even let the fact that department X has a brand Y imager sway you. Believe me, I've talked to department X that bought imager Y based in part on someone else's information and now wish they would have bought imager Z because it will fit their needs better.
Do your own evaluation and buy the one that fits your needs.
[This message has been edited by S. Cook (edited December 22, 1999).]
12-22-1999, 02:49 PM #23dalittleFirehouse.com Guest
Just a quick response.
I never said Bullard wasn't a good camera. Its a fine piece of equipment. Bullard did quite well in the Navy's evaluation. You should take a look at the results of some of the other ones.
12-22-1999, 06:57 PM #24S. CookFirehouse.com Guest
Sorry if I sounded like you said the Bullard was bad, I didn't mean too and don't think you implied it.
I would like to see the full test info, but besides the spread sheet with the pass/fail tally on it and some other pages, the ISG camera was the only one with an in depth evaluation in the Navy report I was given by ISG. I don't fault ISG for that, you're not trying to sell the others so there is no reason to include them in the copy you hand out.
12-22-1999, 09:54 PM #25TIManFirehouse.com Guest
Hello to all and welcome back Mr. Little,
Due to some reason, I hope not an early Y2K issue, I have been unable to access the forum, so my original response will be modified due to number of comments that have taken place since Mr. Little’s original challenge.
Let me make one very important point first,
Up to this point none of my comments concerning this issue were personal. I never said one thing negative about any individual involved, nor did I call you out Mr. Little. But now all of sudden this is a personal issue with you trying to place me at the center. Amazing how you voice a counterpoint or a clearly identified opinion and it becomes a personal issue.
In response to your comments, as always just the facts :
I never stated the first test was to be thrown out, if you choose to imply that, there is nothing I can do about it.
As far as why the second test was conducted ? I have heard a number of stories, but since the US Navy are the only people who really know what the reasons are, I declined to make any specific comments and further fuel the rumors and comments that abound in the TI community. If someone is monitoring this forum and they know the real reasons, let us get it into the open and put an end to the speculation and rumors.
As far as my comments being a sales pitch, any comment on this forum that favors any TI can be taken as a sales pitch. Accusing me or anyone else of making a sales pitch accomplishes nothing for the readers of this forum. As far as me wearing a salesman’s hat, I have done 3 things since I have graduated from High School : US Army, Firefighting, and Fire Service Instruction. My title at Bullard is Training Specialist, I make no commission or bonus based on TI Sales, just my performance as a trainer.
Once again, I never stated (or implied) that my knowledge of thermal imaging was superior to anyone’s. I learn something new everyday about thermal imaging, and much of it comes from posts here on the forum. My reason for participating in this forum is to learn and contribute worthwhile material. As I have stated in the past, my record speaks for itself, and many readers have supported me and agreed with me on this.
I made comments about the Naval Evaluation for the following reasons :
First, it would be a bad idea for anyone to base their decision to buy a TI on any single report. Why, because if that one report happens to be poorly done, then they may be stuck with a poor product. Of course I never stated the Naval Report was without merit or value, my comment of “take it with a grain of salt” simply meant do not take every word in it as gospel and do not use it as the sole justification for purchasing a TI.
Chief Hesse did the right thing (not that he needs my blessing or approval), he did his homework of which the report was a part of, and then he verified his findings in a personal “real world” evaluation.
Had the Naval Evaluation stayed in the Navy where it was intended too stay, this whole situation would have been avoided. But when ISG decided to make it part of their sales pitch to the fire service, then it became fair game for scrutiny and contention. It is not my place to tell the Navy how to conduct their evaluations, and I made no comments to that affect. However, when their information is brought into my arena then it is my job and duty to point out discrepancies where they exist. I say that because my loyalties lie with my brother and sister firefighters, not putting dollars in my pocket or the pocket of a corporation (my bosses are also very aware of how I feel, they read these posts).
I could re-list the issues from the Naval evaluation but if between my original post and Scott Cook’s comments anyone still thinks I am blowing smoke, making a sales pitch, or trying to make myself look good, then nothing would probably change their mind.
We could sit and argue about the first Naval Evaluation until we are all blue in the face. Truth be known we would only be arguing about a worthless point. Not worthless because the information in it is questionable, because the information in it IS OUTDATED, one point no one has brought up yet. That is right why look at the evaluation of unit that basically no longer exists. I know for a fact that the current Bullard unit has had no less than 10 modifications made to it. Many of these were to correct issues identified by the Naval Evaluation. For example, we replaced the LEDs with brighter ones as Scott Cook’s comments back up. Of course if you only listened to the evaluation, and did not see for yourself, you would think it was a problem. I also know that some of the other units evaluated were “prototypes” and they have also been updated since the evaluation. THAT IS A COLD HARD FACT !!!!!!!!!!!!! Why look at a piece of paper, see it for yourself, make your own decision. If you can not do your own evaluation ask your Brothers and Sisters here for help.
I know there are others reading these posts, What do you think ?
I apologize to anyone whom I may have offended, especially Chief Hesse if he feels I was questioning his actions, knowledge, or ability as a firefighter. He and his Department deserve a round of applause for getting a TI and putting it into service, no question it will serve them well, and save lives. My goal and intention here is to keep good quality information flowing, because we all know we can drowned in the crap that is being passed off so that thermal imagers can be sold.
My Opinion, if anyone cares to hear it :
If no one ever questioned the material being posted here, then this forum would only further serve to promote the bad information that is out there. To debate or question a post is not to make a sales pitch, even if the outcome favors a particular unit, it is simply a way to provoke a logical thought process or contribute additional information. To post 20 or 30 lines about how good a unit is, is a sales pitch, whether it comes from a firefighter or manufacturer's rep. Of course if anyone chooses to post that information then we should just all take it for what it is worth and go on. Of course when the post becomes one continuos string of derogatory comments, then as readers we should tell those involved to can it.
Good Luck, Be Safe
PS : Cliff notes of this string should be available soon at a website near you. Also to those of you who are “in the know”, why watch, make a contribution. Any good knowledge on thermal imaging is welcome by all.
[This message has been edited by TIMan (edited December 22, 1999).]
12-22-1999, 10:28 PM #26dalittleFirehouse.com Guest
If you want the movie rights to this saga, I'm sure Richardson (TIMAN) and I can cut you a deal....
OK folks, what's the next issue...
12-23-1999, 12:19 PM #27FFE3BFDFirehouse.com Guest
THIS IS GREAT!!!!!!!!
Battle of the TIC reps. Just kidding.
This is ,in my opinion, the most informative
forum in this site. Keep it going.
For the record, we have 4 ISI Vision III's and the only problem we had was someone used the charger for the MicroMax on the TIC battery.
[This message has been edited by FFE3BFD (edited December 23, 1999).]
12-24-1999, 02:22 PM #28JerseyTruckieFirehouse.com Guest
We are in the process of getting a Camera I would like any information anyone can give, good bad or other. Thank you... Lt.3rd
12-30-1999, 01:03 PM #29pvtcfd22Firehouse.com Guest
First, let me say that I spent 13 years as an electronic Tech with the Raytheon Co. prior to becoming a career firefighter. While I haven't forgotten everything I knew, I still have been confused by some of the technical information that has been presented. Also, I know from experience, in both careers, that specs of performance can be misleading. Often, you better read the real fine print to counter the claims of the bold print.
Our Department uses an IRIS II. I have had experiences with several of the hand haeld cameras mentioned as well, but only in a training environment. My experience has been that the hand-held cameras provided a better quality picture in cooler environments. Also, the idea of a helmet-mounted camera leaving your hands free is not really true, as the camera, in our experience, still requires a hand to hold it where you need it. (Does your fire helmet stay fixed in one spot when you are working away inside? Mine doesn't even with it cinched down so tight my head aches!)
Still, I am impressed with the IRIS II, as I am with any TIC that works reasonably well (is effective), providing a tool that I never thought I would have to bring to the 'party'.
If your department is looking for a TIC, then you need to obtain examples for use of all the units you are considering (and maybe some you are not!) Get the low-down on how to use them, and play. use them as you expect they will be used, not as the sales staff wants them demo'ed. See what fits your needs. If you are technologically advantaged, dig into the specs. It may just confuse you if not, so go by what you see and feel when you use it.
You can investigate other departments experiences with service and training, and dependability by word of mouth, or in forums such as this. But take it all with a grain of salt, so to speak, and use your experiences with the equipment. Find someone you trust in your area who has use experience with a TIC (if possible) for their insights into how they use it and what works like they expected and what doesn't.
Bear in mind it is just a tool, and will not change the world as you know it, sound fire fighting tactics are still and always necessary (the imagers are electronic devices-they will fail like any other tool you bring to the party)
As far as training, we received excellent training from a factory-sponsored trainer with extensive experience in TIC use. (he is a Boston, Ma jake on a rescue company that has used the same style imager we purchased for 3 years plus) unfortunately, this training would have been a better tool to compare the imagers we considered than the demos we had, but, again, I am not unhappy with our choice, and would probably have been happy with others as well.
Please note, I am relating only my and our departments personal experiences, and no scientific methods have been employed. So, like I said, take this with a grain of salt as well!
One comment- we look to employ our TIC from the outset, by the officer if possible. It is hanging in the cab of the truck. I have been very disappointed to see some departments using them as overhaul tools, or running to grab them when they decide they need it (too late!) Put it where it will be used, early and often, and if you put it in a chief's vehicle (because you only have one and you want it to get to the scene?) write an sop that designates a company to put it in service on arrival. The more you use it, the better it will work for you. (you will learn what it can and can't do, and you will learn to understand what you see, and how to direct those who don't have one on.)
01-06-2000, 04:06 PM #30cwernerFirehouse.com Guest
I would like to thank all of you for your input. But lets keep it at that.
When discussions are taking a personal direction the thread and discussion will be ended. While I whole heartedly encourage the discussion and even the "argument" of points, stands or views - I will NOT tolerate personal attacks on persons in the discussion group. If you cannot keep personal attacks to yourself, pls do NOT participate in the discussion.
The problem with this type of discussion tactic takes invaluable information away from us all. I also do NOT think that any promotion by Vendor reps should occur. Explain about the product, the positive points or negative points.
Gentlemen, pls keep it honest and upfront. Dont interfere with the information that the rest of us so desperately need.
01-06-2000, 04:12 PM #31cwernerFirehouse.com Guest
Regarding the Navy Report.....
I think it is important to understand that the Navy report in some ways did not reflect evaluation needs of the fire service.
For one, transmitters were not evaluated. We find transmitters very helpful in our operations and training.
The key is to have your personnel test the cameras themselves. Define what your needs are. Dont listen to anyone else.
AND MOST IMPORTANT, BUY A THERMAL IMAGE CAMERA, SOONER OR LATER, IT WILL SAVE A FIREFIGHTERS LIFE.
01-06-2000, 04:19 PM #32cwernerFirehouse.com Guest
Some general rules:
1. Dont come here to promote your product!
2. Do NOT get personal.
3. Vendors need to keep the discussion generic about products and features.
4. Fire department representatives are encouraged to share their experiences and product manufacturer information is OK.
While it is OK to post information about the advantages or disadvantages about certain features, pls defer from product sales here. If you want to provide sales info, then advertise. That's not what we are here for.
[This message has been edited by cwerner (edited January 06, 2000).]
[This message has been edited by cwerner (edited January 06, 2000).]
02-03-2000, 03:25 AM #33Fred CrowsonFirehouse.com Guest
I just found out about this forum and am I excited! More hits on this forum topic than
all of the others. Just goes to show everyone how much interest there is today in thermal imagers for firefighting.
Let me introduce myself to those of you who may not know me. I am the Technical Director for the Safety and Survivability Office for the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. I am also the principal author on the Navy report entitled "Evaluation of Commercially Available Thermal Imaging Cameras for Navy Shipboard Firefighting" dated February 1999, which has become a topic of discussion in this forum. I am also the guy who purchased the first 473 Navy Firefighters Thermal Imagers (NFTIs) for the U.S. Navy in 1986 from English Electric Valve (EEV) in the United Kingdom who was the ONLY game in town in those days. I continued to stay involved in follow on procurements for another 2000 imagers, all of which were manufactured by EEV as the Model P4428 USN NFTI. This has been a reliable piece of equipment for the past 15 years and has saved the Navy uncountable dollars in fire losses. In 1885 we were averaging over $365 million in PEACETIME fire losses aboard 500+ ships. Today we are less than $9 million for 328 ships mostly attributed to the use of the thermal imager to find the fire before it causes excessive damage. Times have changed and there are several manufacturers of thermal imagers suitable for firefighting applications and the Navy is moving forward to replace our 15-year old imagers.
I will not go into the details of our initial evaluation because it would take too much room (this forum is already 22 pages long to print out); however, there are a few clarifications necessary. The Navy started our assessment by going to our users first and asking them to define what they wanted in a thermal imager. We then went to all companies that we could locate through the internet, going to trade shows, reviewing trade magazines, and resources like Thomas Register.
Companies were notified in writing of our intentions and requested to provide two imagers, at no cost or obligation to the Navy, for evaluation. The reasoning for two units is that if one was delivered defective for any reason, we would have a second to continue our evaluations without interruption of our schedule. They were also provided copies of our requirements and test plan to comment on before the evaluation began. Manufacturers were also requested to provide training to the test participants who were senior enlisted Damage Controman/Firefighter ratings. We were not trying to purposely fail any imager, instead, we were looking toward a cooperative effort with industry to provide a suitable imager for Navy shipboard application. Industry responded overwhelmingly and I would like to express my thanks to those companies who participated.
Manufacturers were also told that results would be available to each participating company and to the public upon request. The Navy could have "classified" the results; however, this seemed inappropriate since the evaluation had nothing to do with National Security and the results can always be obtained through the Freedom of Information Act AT COST to the requestor. This did not seem prudent since it was your taxpayer's dollars that paid for the testing and report dissemination at the tune of about $75,000. Why should I make you pay for the results? As has been stated in this forum, the Navy did not and has not endorsed any commercial product; we simply reported the results of our testing, which in some cases was quite severe. Also, some of our Navy requirements may seem trivial to land-based firefighters, but it becomes quite expensive to rip out old storage facilities and design/construct new storage facilities on 300+ ships just because a new imager does not fit within the same space as the old imager. It is more significant that an imager failed because it was not sealed against water damage. I must say that it was rather depressing to have about $250,000 in thermal imagers from seven companies setting in my office with water dripping out of all but one. Likewise, some criteria were subjective. But, in my 31 years of civil service to the Navy, I have found that the best "engineered" piece of equipment turns into a piece of junk when the 19-year old sailor is unable to use it, or worse, doesn't want to use it for whatever reason.
Follow-on tests were conducted on U.S. Navy ships for the unit(s) passing the initial evaluation. This was to verify that the unit(s) were not affected by radio and electromagnetic frequencies from our radars (which is not a structural firefighter problem) nor contributed to stray radio frequency interference. Manufacturers who corrected deficiencies found during the initial evaluation were allowed to retest (at their cost). The retest consisted of meeting all of the orignal requirements to verify that any change in design, configuration or construction would not cause a failure for a requirement previously tested. I have not received the formal results of this testing yet.
I apologize to all of you for my ramblings and to anyone who has genuine interest in this topic for any misunderstanding that the Navy report may have caused. If anyone would like to discuss our efforts or need clarification on our previous efforts, please feel free to contact me at this e-mail address (preferred) or call me at (202) 685-6855 (I'm seldom in my office), fax no. (202) 685-6862 and I would be glad to provide you with any information that I can.
Keep working toward a common goal of getting thermal imagers in use. There will come a day that thermal imagers will be as common as a fire hose and nozzle. It happened in the Navy. Keep the faith and let your Congressmen and Senators know your needs.
Safety & Survivability Office
02-03-2000, 07:57 AM #34S. CookFirehouse.com Guest
Fred - welcome aboard!
02-03-2000, 12:48 PM #35Eng 48Firehouse.com Guest
Well...It looks as if I created quite a stir amongst all of our factory reps. I'm glad there is so much interest in my topic! As I have stated before, these findings are based on my trials and evaluations...and are my opinions. I was hoping to give people a non salesman perspective on how these cameras faired, the way we tested them. Your tests may be more rigorous, or more gentle. We may have just had a bum camera that day. I stated the things I like about certain cameras, and if given any one of the eight or so cameras I used, would not hesitate to do so. I hope that you realize I am not trying to make a sale. The cameras will sell themselves. Right now we are waiting to see what NJ is going to do for us. We may not even get the camera we selected in our evaluation. All I can say is pick up the cameras, take them in a live burn, use them like you would in a real fire/rescue situation. Close your eyes and operate all the controls on the camera (with gloves on). Fog your mask up and look at the screen.Then you can make up your mind on the camera that's best for you. Remember...you have to fit it on the apparatus somewhere as well, so size might be one of your main determining factors. These are real life stuations that cannot be duplicated on the showroom floor. I Thank you all for your responses, and good luck.
Be safe everyone!
02-03-2000, 10:52 PM #36BootsFirehouse.com Guest
GREAT DISCUSSION !!! THANKS FOR ALL THE INPUT.WITH THE DEMAND INCREASING AND EVER IMPROVING TECHNOLOGY PRICES HAVE STARTING COMING DOWN SOME. IF ANYONE WOULD PLEASE SHARE THE PRICES THEY PAID IN THEIR AREA SO WE CAN COMPARE WITH OUR AREA.THANKS.
02-03-2000, 10:56 PM #37Halligan84Firehouse.com Guest
This is a good discussion. I read the Navy report and got some very interesting info out of it as well.
I have been in 2 evaluations of imagers so far. Both of them were run about the same way. Manufacturers gave a short presentation and let us have at the imagers.
The first eval was for my volunteer company. We were in the burn building and had 5 cameras at our disposal. As the night went on, it became apparent what the favorite camera was. We found that after 3 or 4 burns, 3 cameras spent most of their time out front on a tarp, while the guys traded the other 2 back and forth. When it was all said and done, we bought a Bullard and are very happy with it.
The second eval involved my work department, which protects 3 nuclear generating stations. We have used the EEV imager since the late 80's as did the Navy, so we weren't strangers to the technology. The same thing happened, 2 cameras got most of the attention.. we went with the ISG. At work we had some different reasons.. I feel that flat out the ISG has the CLEAREST picture, I don't think its the easiest to see in fire, but we use our camera most often to investigate odors and overheating equipment. Contrary to my other department, what we dimissed as whistles and bells (video overlay and pyrometers) were very useful during our non-fire uses.
Are either of them the best? Who knows? All of them were good, but the best way I can think of to do an eval is use and abuse all of them.. your answer will be pretty clear when your done.
02-05-2000, 04:02 PM #38nj_lawyerFirehouse.com Guest
For those who were wondering, I have heard some talk that Bullard was the low bid in the NJ TIC program.
However, the State may permit you to take the $7,500 (or whatever the bid was) and use it towards another TIC if you want.
Also, the requirement of matching funds from FD/Municipality will be dropped. If you want the Bullard, it will be sent to you.
There is a limit of one TIC per 25,000 of population in a municipality. Thus, some towns will get 2, 3 or more.
Rumor also has it that there will be a second round in which the State will also offer to reimburse companies/municipalities that purchased prior to Y2K. (up to the $7,500 limit).
My company is going to look at Bullard this week. Their rep "forgot" to come last time, we hope he shows up.
02-08-2000, 10:32 AM #39nj_lawyerFirehouse.com Guest
Bullard came out with their camera last night, impressive unit. I'm sure that we will have them out as a finalist when we do testing at fire school (ie live fire).
Unit was a little top heavy but the image clarity was excellent.
Of course, getting the unit for "free" makes it all the more attractive.
02-08-2000, 12:16 PM #40Eng 48Firehouse.com Guest
O.K. This is what I've heard. N.J. went with the Bullard camera. I belive they are getting them for around $8000. They are giving out 100 cameras a month on a first come first serve basis. Also, after you recive your camera, you have 1 year to purchase another for $900 more than bid price! I'm not positive of all the minor details but this is the way I understand it will be done! Good luck to everybody.
Be safe everyone!
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