1. #1
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    Default Thermal Imager Use in structural firefighting

    I am removing my comments.
    Last edited by OLINENGINE1; 04-12-2006 at 06:25 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OLINENGINE1
    Just wondering what your procedures are on using the Thermal Camera during attack. What are the reasons for your procedures? I like to have at least one member of the first in crew to have one for several reasons. My Assistant Chief of my volunteer department thinks that I am wrong to want to have the thermal camera when going in for an attack. He says when thermal cameras weren't around they fought fire just fine. He says they are good for finding hot spots, hot wiring, etc..., but not for actual attack. On my paid deparment we do things different. When I enter an apartment that is so black I can't see the fire, I like to use the camera to guide me to the fire and since we are short on people use it to search for victims along with other things. Be glad to hear your opinions on this.
    Okay, not attacking.....Don't rely on the camera as your sole sourse of vision into locating a fire, or victims. You still need to paractice and drill on locating the fire/victims through the standard old school techniques. Here is what I suggest to all the new guys I deal with. I'm not sure what kind of cameras you have. We have Bullard T3's. Anyhow....when using the cam, go to the entry point do a quick sweep with the camera, floor to ceiling, and in between, advance in, do your regular right or left hand search, and repeat in every room you come to. Don't ever walk/crawl in just looking through the cam. Scan with it, and search as normal. I say this becuase when and if it fails you WILL be disorented if you do not follow the wall. Or only watch the cam.

    Edit- So in a way your chief is only telling you to NOT rely on the cam. Ventilation, along with a solid sizeup will give you a good location on the fire before you make entry. Learn to read smoke, and don't forget to vent early and often, nothing wrong with breaking a few windows.
    Last edited by pfd4life; 02-13-2006 at 04:24 PM. Reason: More info...
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    Default Bad choice of wording

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    Last edited by OLINENGINE1; 04-12-2006 at 06:26 PM.

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    We use it during initial attack/search in both my volly and career depts.! Priceless tool! However always train as if you never had it, know how to search in blackout conditions!

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    Quote Originally Posted by OLINENGINE1
    He says when thermal cameras weren't around they fought fire just fine.
    Yeah, so I guess we should stop working with new technology? Good luck, sounds like you'll need it.

    We use the camera on the first attack line. Usually the officer carries it. A quick scan as you pass the rooms, knock the seat of the fire and start clearing out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OLINENGINE1
    Thanks for your advice but the fundementals I have down been doing this for a while. I still do the right or left hand, and I do not rely on the camera alone. I break windows, for ventilation. In most cases on my volunteer department we are short on personnel so the PPV isn't always set up by the time we make entry. I did mean exactly what you said as far as using it for a quick sweep. I don't have time to be glued to the camera. I had one particular fire that was very different than most of the fires I have been in, that is what caused the discussion. When I broke in the door to this apartment, the was zero visibility. I had a bad feeling about this fire for some reason and just couldn't get over the feeling, so before I went in I waited for the camera. The camera told me something before I went in. There was an area in the floor that was smoldering enough to make it weak. What I'm getting at, is had I used the regular sweeping in front of me technique to be sure things are safe in front of me, I probably would have fell through the floor, because I would have felt the floor there, But maybe not that it was weak due to the smoldering fire. The camera showed me this spot so I avoided actually travelling over it. Come to find out later it was a good thing I did, the floor burned almost all the way through in this spot. I just think there are some benefits to this practice. May not work all the time, but it did this time.
    Okay, kinda understand better now. If you don't feel safe making entry without it, then don't. We also use it on the first in line when possible. If your chief, OIC, or whoever try to crucify you for waiting, or whatever, tell them to pound sand, because they were not where you were, they can't see what you did, and it wasn't their *** on the line, or they are too figgin stupid to realize what is actually goin on.
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    There are some issues here.

    One: If you don't feel safe entering without the camera, don't go in with it! Now you are relying on the TIC to keep you safe. They do die, batteries fail, steam happens! Between my mask and the camera screen I've lost visibilty a couple of times. So you go back to the "old" way. But if you go in relying on the camera you've been trained to be too reliant on it. You must have a good basic training in the traditioanl ways of attack and search without a camera. Too often we rely on the camera and then can't find the windows or doors when it dies.

    Two: Anyone one who thinks a TIC is only for hot spots and wiring is just too damn stubborn to be a real leader. TIC are awesome at telling you which door in the hall the fire room is behind. Or from the outside where the fire is located (not always). Yeah, hell we used to search without one too, but damn is it faster with one. Just remember to pay attention to exits and orientation. Venting? vent the hottest area of the roof.

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    Question Manpower

    I am not knocking the idea, as others have already posted using (but not relying solely on) the TIC has benefits. Having said that, it is common around here to have 2 firefighters man the attack line...the nozzleman works the nozzle and helps advance the line; while the backup man (line officer) supports the nozzleman, directs, humps hose, and carries the irons. In short, both guys already have their hands full.

    As mentioned in the original post, this question is asked particularly for crews short on manpower. With that in mind, do you assign an extra firefighter to your attack line specifically to carry the TIC? Also, if your attack line crew is carrying the TIC, then are they also primarily responsible for seach?
    Last edited by jshively; 02-15-2006 at 10:31 AM.

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    Smile Thanks for the comments

    I am removing my comments.
    Last edited by OLINENGINE1; 04-12-2006 at 06:27 PM.

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    Default initial attack

    have taken ours in bullard t-3 works great, i still like to use the glow of the fire instead of the camera, that helps me better, but it does work great, used it on a large grocery store fire where the fire was hiding in the ceiling used the camera to take me right to it. worked great. used it on a house fire also, didn't work as well as i thought, that is when i used the natural glow to guide me. so it works for inital attack just have to know when and how to use them.
    michael umphrey
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    olinengine1-

    I work in Rockford and each of our ladders and quints are equipped with one TIC (some Bullard T3max, some Bullard TI). It is up to the search team's discretion on when the camera gets used. I did a one year tour at Ladder #2 and my partner was a Captain with 34 years on the job. He gave me free reign on using the camera, so I carried the TIC with me on every fire along with my axe and irons.

    This camera was very beneficial in many fires by speeding up our searches, locating the fire room, and finding hidden fire without needlessly destroying unaffected ceilings and walls in the residences. We also used the camera for size-up to identify the location of fire in single family, multi-families, apartments, and commercial buildings. The camera is now deployed on almost every fire by the first and second due ladder companies.

    As stated earlier, do not forget your basics, because if you catch a good worker and engine starts spraying water, the camera has a hard time seeing through steam (also it will not see through glass and water). The camera also has a hard time seeing holes in the floor as you crawl or walk if the hole has already burned through or if the heat around the hole is cooler than fire or heat in the room. It is also a good idea to have the camera man throw the spare battery in his pocket when he has the camera. Battery life varies with use, so a full battery does not always mean that you have 90-120 minutes to work with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OLINENGINE1
    Just wondering what your procedures are on using the Thermal Camera during attack. What are the reasons for your procedures? I like to have at least one member of the first in crew to have one for several reasons. My Assistant Chief of my volunteer department thinks that I am wrong to want to have the thermal camera when going in for an attack. He says when thermal cameras weren't around they fought fire just fine. He says they are good for finding hot spots, hot wiring, etc..., but not for actual attack. On my paid deparment we do things different. When I enter an apartment that is so black I can't see the fire, I like to use the camera to guide me to the fire and since we are short on people use it to search for victims along with other things. Be glad to hear your opinions on this.
    Everyone's comments to date are pretty much on the money. I have written articles on using the TI inside during suppression...maybe your chief might open his eyes a little more if he sees people are writing in Firehouse and on Firehouse.com about it. My articles are posted at:
    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/sec...p?sectionId=13
    My comments are sometimes educated, sometimes informed and sometimes just blowing smoke...but they are always mine and mine alone and do not reflect upon anyone else (especially my employer).

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    Quote Originally Posted by jshively
    I am not knocking the idea, as others have already posted using (but not relying solely on) the TIC has benefits. Having said that, it is common around here to have 2 firefighters man the attack line...the nozzleman works the nozzle and helps advance the line; while the backup man (line officer) supports the nozzleman, directs, humps hose, and carries the irons. In short, both guys already have their hands full.
    All the more reason to use the TIC with reduced crew. Time saved seeing where the fire is, where its extending, and locating victims. You don't have too nor should you hold the TIC to your face the whole time. Utilizing a neck strap one can take a look, drop the camera, move and then take another look.

    Quote Originally Posted by jshively
    As mentioned in the original post, this question is asked particularly for crews short on manpower. With that in mind, do you assign an extra firefighter to your attack line specifically to carry the TIC? Also, if your attack line crew is carrying the TIC, then are they also primarily responsible for seach?
    I would send a lone TIC in with the search crew. If possible they can take a look as to where the fire is and report this to the attack crew, but move on with search rapidly. If you can get another firefighter, you should, regardles of using a TIC or not. In your case I'd assign another FF to the door/control position and make the officer carry the TIC, maybe split the irons with the control man or give them up to him.

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    My thoughts are that if you use a TIC as I've been shown its use on a volunteer department,is to not rely on it soley for victim search,location or attacking the fire but as an additional sense as it were to help you accomplish those missions.It won't show holes in the floor,as an example,so you'd still need to feel your way around anyway.Besides,since Murphy is,was and always will be a firefighter,the batteries WILL fail,even though the ossifer just yanked the TIC out of the charger when y'all rolled up on scene.
    Without a TIC,you don't rely entirely on sight,hearing or touch to find victims,locate the fire or where it's extended to so you shouldn't stop what your previous experience has taught you in the past just because you have the latest geegaw fresh off the UPS truck from Galls or whoever supplied it.
    Use it if you have it,but don't stop looking,listening and touching around inside when you're doing your job.You have too much at stake to rely on one source for information at that time:your life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by doughesson
    It won't show holes in the floor,as an example,so you'd still need to feel your way around anyway.
    What brand camera won't show holes in the floor? Cause I want to make sure we or anyone else doesn't buy one! It would be nearly impossible for a hole in the floor to have the exact same heat signature as the floor itself, and therefore will absolutely show up. If fire burned the hole then it will show up real good! But if the camera sees the floor then it has to see the hole as it looks into "thin air". Our ISG is rated to show .05 F differences in temperature. I've seen holes in the floor in actaul fires with it. It's so sensitive, like me , that if you look as a striped shirt, it sees the stripes because the color of the dye changes the heat signature enough to be visible to the camera.

    All that being said, as you pointed out- DON'T FAIL TO DO THE BASICS!!! Plan to lose the camera!
    Last edited by RFDACM; 03-01-2006 at 04:32 PM.

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    I made a mistake.Sorry.Thanks for pointing it out.
    I did not know that TICs were sensitive enough to differentiate between stripes on a shirt,either.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM
    What brand camera won't show holes in the floor? Cause I want to make sure we or anyone else doesn't buy one! It would be nearly impossible for a hole in the floor to have the exact same heat signature as the floor itself, and therefore will absolutely show up. If fire burned the hole then it will show up real good! But if the camera sees the floor then it has to see the hole as it looks into "thin air". Our ISG is rated to show .05 F differences in temperature. If you look as a striped shirt, it sees the stripes because the color of the dye changes the heat signature enough to be visible to the camera.

    All that being said, as you pointed out- DON'T FAIL TO DO THE BASICS!!! Plan to lose the camera!

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    The biggest con to having the TIC on first due units, like other people have said, is that it ends up being relied on way too heavily. When doing an initial search, it is a great tool to have, but it is just that, another tool. If it is relied on too much, tunnel vision can occur, and then when the camera takes a dump halfway into the building, it makes it all that much more difficult to find your way out. But that being said, I see no reason not to carry it, it is a very useful tool, for everyone, first due or not, it just has to be drilled with properly.
    Proud East Coast Traditionalist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM
    What brand camera won't show holes in the floor? Cause I want to make sure we or anyone else doesn't buy one! It would be nearly impossible for a hole in the floor to have the exact same heat signature as the floor itself, and therefore will absolutely show up. If fire burned the hole then it will show up real good! But if the camera sees the floor then it has to see the hole as it looks into "thin air". Our ISG is rated to show .05 F differences in temperature. I've seen holes in the floor in actaul fires with it. It's so sensitive, like me , that if you look as a striped shirt, it sees the stripes because the color of the dye changes the heat signature enough to be visible to the camera.

    All that being said, as you pointed out- DON'T FAIL TO DO THE BASICS!!! Plan to lose the camera!
    One techincal correction: most TIs are sensitive to temperature differences as small as 0.050 to 0.065 degree Celsius (not Farenheit). It depends on the make/model as to which it is, but in a real emergency incident, such sensitivity is normally lost or unnecessary.

    Second, there can be situations where a TI does not see a hole in the floor. For example, during a search on the lower floors of an abandoned building, where all temperatures are equalized, a hole in the floor may be very difficult to spot with a TI.

    Training and practice are the keys to safe usage.
    My comments are sometimes educated, sometimes informed and sometimes just blowing smoke...but they are always mine and mine alone and do not reflect upon anyone else (especially my employer).

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    Quote Originally Posted by firemanjb
    One techincal correction: most TIs are sensitive to temperature differences as small as 0.050 to 0.065 degree Celsius (not Farenheit). It depends on the make/model as to which it is, but in a real emergency incident, such sensitivity is normally lost or unnecessary.

    Second, there can be situations where a TI does not see a hole in the floor. For example, during a search on the lower floors of an abandoned building, where all temperatures are equalized, a hole in the floor may be very difficult to spot with a TI.

    Training and practice are the keys to safe usage.
    jb-

    Thanks for clearing that up! I have been assigned to two ladder companies and have had instances where the holes did not show up due to temperatures having already equalized and searching in cold smoke, the fire had been burning for a while and now was in the attic of a 1.5 story house. I always try to bang a tool out in front of me to sound out the floor and it has saved me twice.

    Just my two cents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OLINENGINE1
    Just wondering what your procedures are on using the Thermal Camera during attack. What are the reasons for your procedures? I like to have at least one member of the first in crew to have one for several reasons. My Assistant Chief of my volunteer department thinks that I am wrong to want to have the thermal camera when going in for an attack. He says when thermal cameras weren't around they fought fire just fine. He says they are good for finding hot spots, hot wiring, etc..., but not for actual attack. On my paid deparment we do things different. When I enter an apartment that is so black I can't see the fire, I like to use the camera to guide me to the fire and since we are short on people use it to search for victims along with other things. Be glad to hear your opinions on this.
    I don't know what your Assistant Chief in your volunteer department is thinking, but thermal imaging cameras are great for finding the seat of a fire, and cutting back on time searching for the seat of a fire, when you can't see diddly squat in that thick black smoke. My department utilitizes our thermal imager in all phases of firefighting, from initial attack, to victim search, to overhaul and finding hotspots.

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    thats great olinengine1 good luck
    Last edited by capt1704; 03-15-2006 at 09:26 PM.

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    Thumbs down Enough

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    I believe thermal imaging has become the ultimate crutch of the fire service. With our new highly protective gear and these high tech imagers, we have a recipe to forget everything that comes with basic firefighting instruction.

    I like the imagers as an aid, not a primary tool for fire attack. In my dept, we simply don;t have the people to be playing with a TI while trying to hump a line in with only 2 or 3 of us. What the imager does is effectively remove the backup firefighter from the handline, thereby reducing the effectivness of one of the most crucial fireground operations....the stretch and advancment of the initial line.

    A TI should be used case by case. There will be times wheny ou need it to assist finding the seat of a fire, or to locate trapped occupants etc. But my focus (opinion) here is mainly on its value in fire attack.

    Thermal imaging is grossly misunderstood in many places. IN NJ, every fire department received a free TI from the state a few years back (more than one if your jurisdiction was larger). Along with that imager came a whole wopping ZERO training. What we ended up was a bunch of uneducated firefighters that think its a camera and hardly know what it can do, much less what it can't do (and some of the cant's are big deal items).

    When things are so black you can't see, then ventilate. When you cant find the fire, ventilate. When its so hot you are getting uncomfortable, ventilate. Ventilation goes a long way in making everything else we do successful.

    When I go in for fire attack, it stays on the rig. Call me what ya like, but a proper hose advancment by a crew of 2 or 3 FF's requires all hands on the line, no time to play games with a TI.

    If I could do the voice of Arnold....its not a CAMERA.
    Last edited by MG3610; 04-06-2006 at 05:21 PM.

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    MG3610

    Some good points. Don't let technology force you to forget the basics. Same goes for entry. If time is not a factor, tell the men to put down the rabbit tool and pick up a set of irons.

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    We had a fire where I work yesterday. I happend to just get off working overtime and had stopped by a neighboring firehouse to BS with the boys when they were dispatched into my town for a house fire. I arrived first and it was an interesting experience not actually fighting the fire. First of all the smoke was pushing out of the eaves and was running along the roof line. The firehouse that I was at is actually a little closer then my own and they beat our engine in...With a truck. A truck that happens to be a quint, but is normally used as a truck. The men forced entry, advanced a 1 3/4" handline through the front door in about a minutes time. The line was charged and the smoke was at floor level (2 story vacant house). There also was quite a bit of heat. I went to the rear prior to the first company arriving. Whoever lit the fire also knocked a hole in the back of the house. Flames were visible from my vantage point. However the engine(actually truck) crew had trouble actually finding the fire. Why? Because the fire was mostly below the floor. The Lt. had the TIC with him and it truly helped find the fire. Our engine dropped a supply line and the crew started doing the truck work. The 2nd engine arrived and went to the roof. The fire was quickly extinguished. Most of the floor in one room was gone. The arsonist(s) had started the fire in a heat duct...Along with 2 other smaller little fires in the house. A Rescue Squad responded as RIT(weren't needed) and did some overhauling. My point to this story is that I saw a perfect fire attack that utilized basic skills,knowledge, balls AND technology. I see people on both sides of these silly arguments everyday being critical of how the other guy is doing it. I am here to tell you that you do what you need to do to put the fire out without killing someone. If that means using a TIC AND a quint (god forbid) I say right on !
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