1. #1
    Eng 48
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool evaluations of imagers

    Well, our demo day has come and gone. Our committee has been to shows, and a few other demos before deciding on three cameras to take a close look at. We chose the Fire Research Lifesight Survivor, The Scott Eagle Imager, and the Bullard as our final test subjects. Unfortunatly, Fire Research couldn't show up. So that narrowed it down to two. Each company went over the operation of the cameras (Bullard actually dropped theirs on the concrete to show how durable it could be). We took both cameras into one room and lit it off (nothing beats a side by side comparison). The Scotts image seemed a little clearer, but as it got hot, lines started appearing across the screen. Eventually the lines got so severe that you couldn't see the screen anymore. The Bullards (we had to) seemed to take the heat better. Of the two, one got one line across it. After a short break, we took them in as if looking for fire/victims, in a live fire situation. In the middle of operations, the Scott camera shut down.
    It seems as though Scott has the right idea, but the Bullard is the way to go. Everyone at our demo agreed it was comfortable, easily seen, easy to use, and more durable than the others. We came to this conclusion after doing tons of research. I hope that this helps anyone who is in the market for a camera.

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    Be safe everyone!

  2. #2
    IRalltheway
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Exclamation

    Just out of curiousity did you find it difficult to perform searches and attacks while having to adjust the "white out" knob or aperature. We found that the cameras with the "white out" knob become very inaffective since you have to continuously adjust the picture to see anything around the flames. So, basically what used to be a one handed system becomes a two handed system. During the demo burns or at the station we didn't really get a chance to "really" use the system and notice this, so we asked some other departments that have purchased some hand held cameras including the Bullard and Scott and they all said that they don't use the system much for searches and attacks because of that reason and basically losing the ability to carry hose lines and tools while carrying the camera.


  3. #3
    Eng 48
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Talking

    We just left the throttle open wide. The instructor was standing right in front of the fire and was not "whited out" at all. In fact neither camera we used experienced it.

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    Be safe everyone!

  4. #4
    TIMan
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    In reference to the first 2 posts :

    As many would suspect I love the first and hate the second. But not because one is pro Bullard and the other is not. I like the first, because it provides hard factual information, and states you can take it for what it is worth. I dislike the second because to be real frank it is “crap”. I say that because the information in it is portrayed as being factual when in reality it is not.

    “White Out Control” – “White Out” describes a phenomenon that occurs in earlier Pyroelectric Vidicon Tube units. When viewing a strong IR source the entire screen on these units would turn white (white out). The screen would remain white until the detector was given a significant period of time to recover, in some cases there was even permanent damage to the tube. The current BST units do not “White Out”. There are phenomenon or “Artifacts” that can occur with BST units such as “Haloing” or “Shadowing” but these are by no means the same thing as “White Out”. These artifacts can also be controlled or eliminated by using an automated or manual aperture control. “White Out” is a serious problem, the current “Artifacts” with BST units are not.

    “The units must be constantly adjusted to operate” – I have been at this for years and have used a number of units to include Bullard and Scott and the truth is they require no adjustments to operate. There are certain situations where making an adjustment on the aperture may improve what is being viewed, but by no means is it mandatory to make any adjustments to get a satisfactory image. It is a fact (not an opinion) that a microbolometer will provide a better image when looking directly at a fire, but it is also a fact that a BST unit can also provide a satisfactory image when looking directly at a fire. Not to mention you will spend less than 5 percent of your time looking directly at a fire, you put it out, or you scan the area and move on, you do not sit and stare at it.

    As for the rest of the information I find it ludicrous and insulting. As the first the post stated, there was an extensive evaluation that included hands on tasks and as a result the Bullard unit was chosen based on the outcome. The second post asks “do they not find it hard to conduct search and rescue or fire attack activities?”. I would think and hope if they had problems carrying out core firefighting tasks they probably would not have bought the unit. Not to mention, if those things were a problem, I would wonder why there have been thousands of hand-held BST units sold and in service for over 2 years now.

    The bottom line is there is already a lot of bad information out there on thermal imaging. If people are not sure of the information they are making public knowledge then the “crap” will only be further promoted and passed on. This is a great place to get an opinion on any Fire Service topic, but everyone is done a disservice when a post is presented as fact when in reality it is misinformation or an opinion. There is no question competition is stiff in the thermal imaging market, and just like everything else, everyone has their opinions and favorites. But I would hope we can sift through what is fact and what is opinion so everyone can make their own well informed decision on what will work best for them.

    I would not discourage anyone from posting information here, if something is said incorrectly most likely someone will catch it, correct it, and no harm is done. But if misinformation is intentionally posted here to promote a certain product or viewpoint then everyone is done a disservice.

    If anyone feels I am out of line with these comments please let me know, but do not turn this forum into a personal battle or contest between manufacturers. My comments may seem harsh but this has been an ongoing issue for some time now, and I have tried to address it outside of this forum, evidently with no resolve.

    I have only one purpose here, to see that accurate information is made available here, so that everyone can make their own well informed decisions. When my opinion is given here it is identified as such, when I provide factual information here it is identified as such. To do anything else would be unacceptable.

    What do you think ?

    Good Luck, Be Safe,
    TIMan


  5. #5
    dalittle
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I had to respond to TIman's comments on whiteout in today's thermal imaging cameras - there are a few incorrect statements - although much of what he has posted here is pretty good.

    First "white-out" is basically depolarization of the detector target - that is, it has reached it's state of saturation and can no longer accurately return a value that can be transformed into a shade of gray. In other words, it returns "peak white" or beyond.

    Now, the difference is that with Pyroelectric Vidicon systems, when the detector reached saturation, it lost all ability to image since it is, in effect, a single pixel system. It then had to be "polled" to re-set the target (made of a material called TGS.)

    Now, with BST, you can saturate the detector target - actually quite easily. Therefore, you basically have the same effect - this is white-out. The difference is that you have over 80,000 pixels on your BST chip, over 76,000 are read by the CMOS electronics. Therefore, whiteout does not readily occur in the entire array concurrently. However, it does occur.

    Furthermore, in certain conditions, in fire environments, you can saturate the entire detector array - in cases like this, the thermal imager looses its ability to image and the firefighter sees nothing but indistinguishable distortion on the screen.

    The only way to control that is to provide aperture and/or gain correction. Bullard and Scott handle that by using a knob that the firefighter must adjust, while ISG and MSA use automatic adjustment and correction systems. both manual and automatic systems serve the purpose.

    TIman, you are rather reckless to post a statement that you do not need to adjust the aperture to get a satisfacory image. In certain conditions, you certainly do... no question about it.

    Now, on another topic, Microbolometers. There was much talk about microbolometers in the past six months, however, it has somewhat subsided.

    Bolometric technology has certain advantages in industrial applications. For instance, it can me made radiometric since it does not require a chopper mechanism. It is also rather small and lightweight.

    However, in fire environments, the microbolometer tends to exhibit some very concerning reactions to high thermal loads, and high ambient temperatures. In my opinion, these technical issues must be cocntrolled before microbolometers are truly safe for firefighting applications.

    Do not let salesmen sell you on "third generation technology" - that's just a pitch.

    If bolometers were so great and trouble free, we'd all be using them.

    TIman, sorry I had to nix you on this. It is not my intent to create a battle, especially with Bullard, as I think its a fine camera and I know many of the members of Management at Bullard.

    If I were buying a camera today, I'd pick mine first (ISG K90 Talisman), then second, I'd pick Bullard.

    Good work, keep it up!


    David A Little
    Director, North American Operations
    ISG Thermal Systems USA, Inc.

    (manufacturers of thermal imagers)

  6. #6
    mfgentili
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    After reading all this technical jargon in the last two posts by TIMan and David, I realize that I am a greenhorn in regards to thermal imaging technology. However, I have used 3 different hand held units both in training and actual fires so will give my own thoughts and opinions, for what the're worth. Our department currently owns an FRC Lifesight Plus, Scott Eagle, and a Bullard. The FRC definitly gives the best quality image but I feel is way too complicated to operate with the different options on the startup menu. We have also had major problems with breaking of the exposed external battery. The Scott and the Bullard on the other hand are what I like to call firefighter friendly. They are simple to operate. Turn on, point, and view. As for picture quality, who really cares if the image of a victim is not as sharp, as long as it is ditinguishable. Remember the acronym KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). This definitely should apply here. Simply put, if it's easy to use the members will use it, if it isn't, they won't. Whichever camera you end up with, it will greatly assist your fireground activities. We use them on just about every fire either looking for victims or fire extension. Good Luck.

  7. #7
    TIMan
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hello All and Welcome Mr. Little,

    I am glad another manufacturer is on board so additional information on thermal imaging will be available.
    I think and hope we can provide valuable information here without pushing a specific product. A word of caution Mr. Little, your comment on “buy ISG” is the kind of stuff firehouse.com and others will not find acceptable, I know from first hand experience based on an earlier episode involving FLIR I think we all have the right to post our opinions here as long as we identify them as such, and keep the opinions and facts separated and identified.

    As far as the “white out” issue goes, we both are right, but I would make the following point. First of all “white out” is not defined in Webster’s Dictionary so that is why you defined it one way and I defined it another. My definition is one that goes back, as I said, to the days of PEV technology. In those days “white out” meant complete detector saturation which resulted in the entire screen turning white and staying white for a significant period of time. Users would say “the screen whited out”, hence the term was developed. I would say your definition is a more up to date one based on a more scientific explanation of what can occur with the current BST technology. So what does all of the technical stuff and definitions mean? The days of the complete screen turning white and staying white for more than a second or two are over with the current BST technology.

    As far as the issues goes with having to make an adjustment on the aperture control to get a satisfactory image, I just spent 2 months comparing various units and technologies in real world applications. As a result I have on video tape how the Bullard and certain other units function in a wide range of environments. With the aperture all the way open, looking at an environment where everything is 70 degrees to looking at a free burning fire, the image was never unacceptable. It is on tape for anyone to look at and verify, so I would not say my comment is reckless, just me saying what is a verifiable fact. Not to put words in anyone’s mouth but it seemed that Eng 48’s comment also verified this. Of course as I have always said in the past, do not listen to me or anyone else, see for yourself.

    I also brought this issue up because I attend about 4 or 5 fire department TI evaluations a month. Many of them are excellent, but in a number of them the firefighters basically sat and looked at the fire, making a big issue out of what they saw, while never trying to carry out any other tasks or evaluating the units in any other type of environment. If you think about it how much time do you actually spend looking at a free burning fire? You are there to put it out, so when you find it, you put it out. If you can not put it out you are not going to sit around and look at it. As far as being able to ID a downed firefighter who is in the same room as the fire, yeah you need to evaluate that issue. If what you see with an imager is so poor you can not make out what you are seeing, then it obviously is not doing you any good. But remember you are not making Hollywood movies, you need a good image, but not necessarily the same quality you get on your camcorder. Also the imager with the best picture is no good if it will not work or is not user friendly as mfgentili pointed out.

    I hope no one will purchase an imager based solely on anyone’s presentation of information here. I hope the information here will insure everyone is aware of the capabilities and limitations of the various thermal imaging systems so they can make their own informed decision on what will work best for them.

    See it and do it for yourself !

    Good Luck, Be Safe,
    TIMan

  8. #8
    Eng 48
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Talking

    Just for the record, I thaught "white out" was what happend when the camera was pointed at a high temp heat source, it overpowered anything in front of it. If the fire was so hot that if a person was in front of it, you couldn't see them in the imager. This was not experienced with either camera. The rep from ISG may have missed my other posts. The ISG has to be held right up to your face to see anything. The backlit screens on the Bullard and Scott are the way to go. These are my opinions, and everyone should try the different cameras themselves. I'm just trying to give people some ideas of what to look for while evaluating cameras. Good luck everyone.

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    Be safe everyone!

  9. #9
    S. Cook
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Since a bunch of the reps are all here, I thought I'd post some of the things I like by way of imagers. In no particular order (except #1).

    1. Easy to use. Just give me a button to push and get out of the way. The control knob for the iris is no big deal, the only time we may need to use it is when were looking for a missing/runaway person that is NOT associated with a fire call.

    2. It should be ready to go at all times. I don't want to have to put the thing together on the way to the call.

    3. Durability. If it is dropped from a resonable height (say 8' to 10' from an attic onto concrete, not 20 to 30 from a roof) it should continue to operate. If it has an external component, (e.g. antenna, cable...) IT IS GOING TO GET BROKE.

    4. Reliability. It shall work when I need it to work. It shall not be accidentlayy turned off when I lay it down, crawl with it or bump it into something.

    5. Large screen. I would like to see what I point a $15,000 piece of equipment at.

    6. Customer service. If I can't get 24 hour turnaround service, or a replcement unit while mine is in the shop, I wasted the taxpayers/donators money. The imager may not be there when they need it.

    7. Training. At least one day for each shift. Then leave us the materials and we'll catch the rest of the folks up on it. They are not that hard to use.

    8. Upgradeable. As technology changes, if you upgrade your imager, I want to be able to upgrade the older version I bought from you without having to buy a new imager, unless I get a deal on a trade in.

    Scott

    [This message has been edited by S. Cook (edited November 28, 1999).]

  10. #10
    dalittle
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I just wanted to post a real quick reply to the question from the Cranbury NJ firefighter concerning whitout.

    You are correct... sort of....

    When you stand in proximity, in front of a decent sized fire, and are observed through a thermal imager, saturation in the image may occur around you, but not on you. Your body is acting as a filter to the IR radiation. You appear as a black silhouette. Observers can see you against the fire (unless you are in conditions that saturate the entire detector array.) All this holds true if the camera is not moved or panned. If the camera is panned, your image shifts to a saturated area of the scene thereby preventing the observer from seeing you since a saturated detector, or fraction thereof, is incapable of returning good imaging values until the pixels have sufficient time to re-set or "poll" themselves.

    In BST based systems, this takes anywhere from a few (2 or 3) seconds, to upward of 15 seconds in some cases.

    PST and PbZr based systems (Marconi detector arrays used in cams like FLIR SeekIR, MSA (EEV) Argus, and CarinsIRIS) actually appear to re-set slightly faster than BST.

    In microbolometers, the imprint of the fire, where the overload occured, may even be left on the screen indefinitely until the detector is normalized (we call this "nuking".) By the way, most bolometer based cams have a provision for "nukes" so, don't worry too much about that.

    Manufacturers prevent this from happening by using saturation control devices - either gain/offset, or front-end iris, or both - to prevent the overload from occuring in the first place.

    So, in summary, whiteout in BST based cameras is not loosing the image of a firefighter in front of a fire, but the loss of the image of a firefighter could be caused, at least in part, by whiteout. This can occur with any type of technology.

    Caveat -- please do not take this as the "Bible".

    (I am really dong an injustice here because there are so many different conditions and environmental factors that could cause all kinds of things to happen. - We, as manufacturers, just have to anticipate what may happen and make sure we've made a provision to control it as best we can.)

    You guys pay a lot of money for this equipment, you expect it to work! (I don't blame you!)

    I hope this helps you.

    Any questions, fire away!


    David Little
    Director, North American Opers.
    ISG Thermal Systems USA, Inc.

  11. #11
    TIMan
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hello All,

    Well I believe we have beaten up “white out” pretty good, hopefully we have not just thrown around a bunch of technical jargon, but we have made some clear useful points. I am not real sure of that and I believe these posts bring up what should be an obvious point, we lack a clear concise source of information on thermal imaging. You will not find the term “white out” in Webster’s dictionary, or more importantly IFSTA’s Essentials of Firefighting, or any NFPA Standard. If you check all of the manufacturer’s websites you will find Bullard’s is the only one with a definition of “white out”. This definition is basic and acceptable, but it does not even come close to covering all of the information that was covered in these posts. So it is clear and evident why there is so much confusion over whether or not a unit will or will not “white out”, if you can not define what is taking place how can you determine if it is happening. So what are we going to do about it?

    I believe progress is being made, the information being exchanged on this forum is one example. But I also believe the posts on this forum show that unless we have a definitive source to refer to, the battles and arguments will continue to rage especially when it comes to evaluating and buying imagers. More importantly this lack of information may lead to an injury or fatality because a firefighter is unaware of the real capabilities and limitations of thermal imaging. This gets back into some of the earlier posts on training and the issues over who should be providing it. There is no questions the manufacturers will have a big part, but I have a problem with the fact the Fire Service is almost completely willing to blindly follow whatever a manufacturer says. In a perfect world factual unbiased information should be provided, but when millions of dollars are on the line chances are the information that bests supports the manufacturers selling points will be emphasized. That is not to say anyone would intentionally provide information that would put anyone’s life on the line, but we all should know the truth has been stretched and certain information has been conveniently left out. Certain individuals (firefighters) and agencies (fire training facilities) have begun the intimidating task of understanding thermal imaging and providing information to firefighters, but they are few and far in-between. I hope more work can be done between the manufacturers and fire service to insure the correct information is available.

    What do you think needs to be done ? Does NFPA need to develop a standard on thermal imagers and thermal imaging training ? Does IFSTA need to incorporate thermal imaging into the next edition of the Essentials of Firefighting ? How can we as firefighters and manufactures go about getting this done ? It is a lot to think about, but we have to start somewhere, or we will have to continue down the current path with a number of different people trying to call the shots at the same time.

    Good Luck, Be Safe,
    TIMan

  12. #12
    IRalltheway
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Wink

    Well, I have been watching these posts as well and I agree mostly with Mr Little, but I also agree with TIMAN that training is very important. However, I think the training should come from the manufactuers. They and I know we've talked about this before are the experts on the camera and the way it works. They should bascially teach the firefighters what it can and can't do, not tell them how to do their job. It's up to the departments to bring it into their specific SOP's. I am a little curious why more manufactuers don't provide good quality training when a camera is purchased. Has anyone received good training from the manufacturer, not the distributor after they purchased a camera? The distributors are great, but they can't be experts on everything.

  13. #13
    Lt.Rhodes
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I only see a couple of camera's being evaluated in this forum and I know there are numerous T.I.C.'s out there and yes they all have good points. We currently use the Vision III from ISI in our department. I urge you to evaluate this camera.

    Lt.Rhodes
    Marshall,Mi

  14. #14
    Eng 48
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    To anyone reading this forum, you may have missed my previous posts where I didcussed the other cameras our committee had evaluated. These three were our finalists, not the only ones we looked at.

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    Be safe everyone!

  15. #15
    WOOLMARKET
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hello all,
    First let me start by saying I am not a salesman. I am the Assistant Fire Chief for the Woolmarket Fire Volunteer Dept which is a rural fire department in southern Mississippi. We recently purchased the ISG K-90 Talisman which we felt gave us the best product. We were provided the United States Navy's finding on replacment systems for the current shipboard models which we studied in detail. This report included finding on all the major models available which were put to the test in a live fire environment. ISG stood head and shoulders above the rest based on the results of the testing conducted. I spoke to serveral companies to include Cairns, Flir, Bullard, FRC, Argus, Scott, MSA, and ISG to name a few. I asked for reading material on all their products and from that asked more questions. Some companies, not mentioning names, became frustrated with us so they were removed from consideration. After we had narrowed the choice down to the ISG model, we contacted the local rep who assisted us from there. We held a live fire training exercise with the ISG rep, Tony at Airsafe, who provided us with an additional camera. Every single individual was amazed!
    Since the camera was put in service, we have been more confident with the system and have saved three structures from complete loss which before the camera was in service, we would not have entered and even attempted to fight. An interesting side note, our camera was requested by a major city police department, with the initials of BPD, to assist them in a hostage standoff. Talk about good PR.
    Bottom Line- We purchased the ISG because it lives up to its reputation. It is worth the money.
    I will be more than happy to share my thoughts on the camera/procurement process/funding with anyone who has a question.
    Stay Safe
    Will Hesse
    Asst Chief, Woolmarket Volunteer FD

  16. #16
    HPOne
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    As long as David and TIMAN are on this page I thought I would interject as well. My name is George Batchelor and I work for FireFLIR. I just wanted to say that I agree with IRALLTHEWAY. Training is crucial in the use of any IR imager. FLIR believes this and has trained hundreds of firefighters, all over the country, in the use of their FireFLIRs . Training is an essential part of the product (as it should be) not an option. Did you receive your SCBA or even a gas meter without some training ? NO. Then why would you take a TIC into a fire with out training ?

  17. #17
    TIMan
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hello All,

    Couple of things :

    Just curious, Chief Hesse, why you choose to eliminate all of the units except for one before you did the live fire evaluation. I ask because I am always being questioned about evaluations and this is the first time I have ever heard of anyone going through the work of doing a live fire evaluation, but only looking at one unit in the burn. Is anyone else eliminating the units down to one before the burn ?

    Second, for everyones info the Naval evaluation has been redone, for a number of reasons which I will leave alone. The new results should be available by the first of the year. I guess it has some merits, but I think any evaluation you do yourself would be much better. Land based and ship based firefighting are two different beasts. There are a number of the test criteria that do have merit, and it is another reference source if you can not do your own evaluation, but I would take it with a grain of salt.

    Good Luck, Be Safe,
    TIMan

    [This message has been edited by TIMan (edited December 18, 1999).]

    [This message has been edited by TIMan (edited December 18, 1999).]

  18. #18
    WOOLMARKET
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    TIMan,
    With reference to your question about why we eliminated all the other units before the live test. Fair question and it was due to the fact that we asked for a preview of the cameras, ie before the live fire, and only two companies appeared. We eliminted the other camera based on this pending the results of the live fire. It is fair to say we were convinced based on our financial situation, requirements, and research conducted we were going to procure the ISG unless during the live fire, it flopped. During the live fire, we had two cameras (ISG Talisman) made available for our use and they proved themselves to every individual present. I felt it was important to limit the live fire exercise to the camera we felt we were going with so this way everybody got a chance to use it, get comfortable with it, address concerns, and give their first hand inputs. We researached the various cameras for over a year and the committee felt the live fire would be the make or break determination.
    Now let's move onto the Navy testing. While any Volunteer Chief knows that the department can be a full time job, my real full time job is as a Naval Officer. TIMan you are off the make by saying shipboard and land based fires are two different beasts. In some aspects, shipboard is much more complicated as several factors must come into play (stability, plant recovery, and effected systems, etc). Unless you have found a way to walk on water, the surround and drown tactic won't work real good. It is usually a long swim in. Getting back to the point, a thermal imaging camera must perform in the toughest environment no if's and's or buts. From that standpoint, there is no, repeat no, difference between land based and shipboard fire fighting.
    Next point, the Navy requested each manufacturer who wished to be considered as the next generation of cameras meet certain requirements which were known to all upfront and to my knowledge there was no hidden agenda. Having known the requirements up front and then failing does not give me a sense of confidence based on the tests were what can be expected of a camera. If a camera can meet these requirements, it will meet any fire departments requirements hands down. As far as taking the study with a grain of salt, a member of my staff (who has over 20 years experience as a volunteer firefighter) particpated in additional testing and he echoed the results of the initial test. I put stock into the Navy's findings and I encourage any department who is interested in procuring a camera to obtain a copy of the testing.

    Stay Safe
    Will Hesse, Asst Chief Woolamrket FD
    LCDR, USN (when I am not wearing my cape with an "S" on it.)

  19. #19
    TIMan
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hello All,

    In response to the response. First of all if you are happy with your decision and your unit is working for you great. No question ISG has a good unit and it will serve you well. My point in my question was to try and get some clarification so that others who are in your position will understand your reasoning, not to say you are right or wrong. It is a free country and you can do what you please. I sought clarification because in the past the consensus on this forum has been that the best way to do an evaluation is to look at all of the units in the live fire, since many will do well in a office but fail in the burn. Of course if you have a party and no one shows what can you do.

    As far as the Navy, you are entitled to your opinion as I am to mine, but I would make the following counterpoints.

    Shipboard versus Landbased,

    Ventilation – you can not take out a window or cut a hole in the roof, the smoke conditions in a shipboard fire can easily be a hundred times worse than a structure fire. If the shipboard ventilation system is out, the smoke stays, and cold wet smoke is the worst.
    Egress – damage control procedures can dictate that hatches are sealed, this can mean normal egress routes are lost. Basically you are fighting a basement fire, but the incident commander may make the decision to close the door behind you.
    Strategies – you said it, surround and drowned is not an option in shipboard, it definitely is on the land.
    TI Use - my understanding, which came from the Navy Evaluation and 2 friends who are former naval firefighters, was that the TI operator basically directed the actions of others, unlike landbased operations where the TI is used by team members carrying out suppression or rescue activities.

    As far as firefighting goes there are differences, as far as TI use, I can not say for sure. I am not part of Naval Fire Fighting Team today, but in my understanding of how the evaluation was conducted there were differences in how the units were used. You hit it right on the head when you said they must be durable, this should be one of the top issues when evaluating imager

    As far as the evaluation, I wanted to stay out of the details but here goes,

    The Navy had a requirement for unit size and case size, relevant to the Navy, completely irrelevant to everyone else. So if a unit failed this criteria should it matter to anyone other than the Navy ? No.

    Bullard offered the Navy a case that would meet the size requirements. The evaluators explained it was not the production model so they could not evaluate it. How much sense does that make ? None.

    Bullard failed the radio interference test (a problem which has been corrected), the ISG unit among others, was not tested against radio interference.

    Our camera did not have a strap on the left hand side so it was not considered ambidextrous, I know of at least 3 left handed firefighters who use it with no problem. Is this an objective or subjective test criteria ? Pistol grip works in the left or right hand.

    One of ISG’s cameras leaked in the water test, but because it worked when it dried out it was considered a pass. I thought the test criteria was to see if it was water tight not to see if would work after it took on water and had a chance to dry out ? Inconsistent.


    I could fill about 10 pages with comments on the evaluation. Once again, the Naval Evaluation has been redone and the new results should be out by the first of the year. I bet at least one more manufacturer passed, so what does that say about the first round ? What about ISG's claim to be the only one to pass the Naval Evaluation ? A final note, the Navy never intended for its evaluation to be used outside of the Navy, it says on the first page of the report (quote) :
    “The findings contained in this report are not to be construed as an official Department of the Navy position unless so designated by other authorized documents. Citation of trade names in this report does not constitute an official endorsement or approval of the use of these products. Cameras were assessed against Navy shipboard firefighting requirements and in no way denote potential for use in other firefighting applications”

    The only reason I am speaking out on the Navy issue is because ISG has built a considerable part of their marketing and sales around it (publication and trade show advertising, mailed to customers requesting literature) even though the Navy never had any intentions of indorsing a product with its results. I know not every department can conduct their own evaluation so they have to base their decision on something. I THINK (my opinion) they are better off making their decision based on numerous evaluations conducted by land based departments, versus one ship based evaluation. Why look at the Navy’s report when you can look at a report from someone who does the exact same thing you do under the exact same conditions? That is why I have constantly tried to get departments to post the results of their evaluations here, regardless of who they chose. Your input adds to that information. No body says we all have to agree here, but obviously more can be accomplished by working together, rather than fighting over who is number one.

    There are at least 2 or 3 units on the market that are great and work fine. The perfect TI has not been built, each one has its pros and cons. The only person who can say for sure what is best , is the person who uses it successfully in battle, as it was intended without failure.

    No disrespect intended, just voicing a different viewpoint and concern, trying to keep the information flowing.

    Good Luck, Be Safe
    TIMan

    PS : think I can get a cape with a “T” on it where you got your cape with a “S” on it ?


    [This message has been edited by TIMan (edited December 20, 1999).]

  20. #20
    dalittle
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Angry

    Wow, I missed quite a bit over the last couple of days! I open this board up and POW! look at
    what’s going on...

    OK TIMAN, since you’ve already stepped into this pile of (you know what) with both your feet, now, lets really get some clarification:

    In one of your previous posts, you mention that the US Navy tests were redone for reasons you will “leave alone...” That statement can be interpreted many ways - and can very easily be misinterpreted. Its almost like you’d like others to believe that the test was thrown out by the US
    Navy and the results will be replaced by the more recent test that was conducted last month. NOW, that is certainly not true is it? I am very curious to learn about your impressions why there was a second test in the first place. Let’s hear the reasons - also be aware that this board is monitored by individuals who are “in the know” so you should be sure about your facts before
    you post, and errors of omission are not permitted either - in other words, the whole story please... This time, please leave your salesman hat at home. This is not the place for this.

    I commend you on your soft-sell approach to promote your thermal imaging product. Very
    eloquently done, but not transparent to many of us watching from the sidelines.

    The US Navy has used firefighting thermal imaging for over 15 years and has around 2000
    cameras in service - I certainly would imagine that they probably have more experience with thermal imaging than you do. Advising the readers to take their evaluation and findings with a grain of salt suggests at least some degree of delusions of grandure, and is certainly arrogant at
    least.

    TIMAN, you should not leave these readers with an impression that you know something about these tests that they don’t, and that you are either unable or unwilling to share the information.

    We eagerly await your reply...

    David A. Little
    Director, North American Operations
    ISG Thermal Systems USA, Inc.


    [This message has been edited by dalittle (edited December 21, 1999).]

  21. #21
    IRalltheway
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    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).]

  22. #22
    S. Cook
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    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).]

  23. #23
    dalittle
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    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.

    david little

  24. #24
    S. Cook
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    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.

  25. #25
    TIMan
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    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
    TIMan

    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).]

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