Thermal Cameras are now assisting Fire Fighting Professionals in saving lives and locating dangerous situations before additional life is placed in an uncompromising position. Professionals using these cameras are approaching fires more safely and strategically and are able to detect additional combustibles and find hotspots quicker. Since time is always of the essence, the Firefighting Professional uses every tool available to them. Using a Thermal Camera will absolutely allow responders to understand their situation quicker and find and rescue victims sooner.
These Cameras are used to locate existing casualties and possible non-anticipated hazards either in total darkness, in smoke, in fog and in fire. They are now considered to be an essential tool for many first responders including, but not limited to, Law Enforcement, Fire Fighting, Marine Safety and Home Land Security. They are now used and accepted worldwide for Personnel Safety and Enforcement Searches. They are considered to be extremely powerful weapons that can be used by firefighters and emergency personnel in the fight against increased property damage as well as the search and rescue of human life. The use of thermal cameras offers fire fighters a tactical, search and positioning advantage. A handheld thermal imager allows the observation and location of impending fire damage as well as locating and saving human life. This increases the probability of locating injured or hidden casualties in a fire as well as locating the source of high temperature and possible danger to structure and property.
The following images below clearly demonstrate that limited visible light in a smoke filled environment doesn’t allow the Professional the opportunity to view a possible casualty, but using the Thermal Camera allows the Professional to locate and initiate life-saving actions quickly. Another illustration of a life saved utilizing a Thermal Camera.
Fire and Thermal
Fire Search Successful
Night Vision vs. Thermal Cameras
The two figures below are representative of what is seen with night vision (Figure 1) and what is captured with a thermal imager (Figure 2). Figure 1 represents a typical night vision view of a park surrounded by trees and foliage. It is not apparent that there is any human life in the general area. Using a Thermal Imager designed for first responders, figure 2 demonstrates that someone is hiding behind the foliage. If the park vegetation was beginning to ignite, the location of the person in the woods offers an undeniable advantage to the rescue responder team.
Figure 1 - Night Vision
Figure 2 - Thermal Camera
The human eye uses reflected light to visualize and produce an image. Daylight cameras, night-vision devices, and the human eye all work on the same basic principle. When light energy reflects off of an object, our eyes receive that signal and produce the appropriate image. In darkness, or in fog, or in smoke, we are limited to the external light provided. If there isn’t enough light or the artificial light is not sufficient, we no longer see clearly or see at all. When using night vision devices, the available light is magnified to produce an image. These devices have range limitations especially in extremely low-light conditions. It becomes difficult to view or recognize an object or produce any contrast for the image we would like to find. The thermal contrast between an object and its surroundings is what safety first responders are seeking.
Thermal cameras measure the reflected thermal energy and are not susceptible or responsive to daylight or artificial light. Professional Firefighters Thermal Cameras indicate temperature variations usually by a display of sharp black and white contrast screen. By sensing this thermal energy and displaying it as black and white video, thermal imagers allow you to see things from farther away and with greater contrast than conventional visible-light cameras and night-vision technologies. As long as there is a temperature variation, within the resolution and sensitivity of the camera, the image will be displayed. The use of flashlights and high beam spotlights never finds a hidden human in the midst of smoke. The photo below, figure 3 is indicative of locating someone who is in trouble at the scene of a fire where the room is smoke filled. In this case, the rescue team finds the Thermal Camera to, literally, be a life saver.
Direct Temperature Measurement
The Thermal camera has the capability to display, within the viewing area, digital temperatures of objects in view. This may assist Professional when entering hazardous area or when determining other safe alternative actions
There are many applications for a Firefighting Professional to discuss when a Thermal Camera is considered.
- See in zero visibility
- Significantly improve safety and mobility
- Memory and Data Logging Capability
- Monitor temperatures for preventative maintenance and condition monitoring of equipment
- Fire Prevention surveys
- Monitoring the effectiveness of cooling
- Searching for submerged casualties in deep water
- Examining containers storing hazardous or flammable materials
- Road Traffic Accidents
- Predict potential of Flashover
- Locating the seat and spread of a fire
- Searching for casualties
- Analyzing the effectiveness of attack
- Overhaul Systems
- Pre Qualification
- See through dense smoke and in darkness
- Detect and display the relevant temperatures of objects within the scene
- Moving swiftly in search and rescue of casualties
FOV - Field Of View
The FOV or “Field of View” is the area of the image that is measured and viewed on the imager screen. The lens has the greatest influence on the total view, but a larger pixel array (matrix) may provide greater detail of desired temperature gradient. By choosing the appropriate lens with a specific pixel array, you are also determining the length of visual capability for the Imager. Please confirm the specifications you may require and compare to the tables as shown on the product pages. Most lenses for the Firefighting Thermal Cameras all contain an identical FOV lens and only the pixel array may change.
Start Up Time
In moments of emergency, the Professional needs as much time as is available for quick, decisive and knowledgeable action. Lives depend on this action and a quick start-up time for all equipment is favorable for a positive outcome. Please check product specifications to insure your camera responds quickly and professionally.
IR Digital Zoom
IR Digital Zoom is a technique used to enlarge, magnify, and possibly enhance the image that is being viewed. It is primarily used to increase the viewed image size. Unlike Optical Zoom, which uses a combination of built in lenses to change the field of view, digital zoom is accomplished electronically only. The digital zoom feature is available on many cameras and may be specified as 2X (two times), 4X(four times), or 8X(eight times). Digital Zoom may not increase quality or image resolution, but will increase image size and Field-of-View characteristics.
Image Frequency (Hz)
Image Frequency is commonly referred to as the refresh rate or frame rate. In traditional Industrial, Commercial and Building Diagnostics applications, refresh rate or frame rate is the accepted frames per second update for the image being transmitted to the display. Rates are commonly listed as 9Hz. 30Hz or 60Hz. These convert to 9 frames, 30 frames or 60 frames per second. Higher frame rates are usually found on cameras with better resolution as well as cameras used for Professional “Firefighting’ and "Law Enforcement" applications involving motion. If the application anticipates using a video output, a higher refresh rate is preferred. The choice is based on application and camera specifications. All Thermal Cameras with a frame rate above 9Hz are controlled for export by the US Department of Commerce and require appropriate paperwork.
Dynamic Screen Colorization (EDSC)
This feature allows the professional Firefighter to quickly visualize the location of the “hottest” areas within the actual fire scene (location). This process adds safety and security to those firefighters entering a specific location allowing them the ability to make quick and rational decisions.
Real World Fire Application
Other Thermal Features to Consider
- Fast Start-up
- Small Size for a Gloved Hand
- Ease of Operation
- Easy to Use
- Quick and Easy Image Capture
- Quick and Easy Video Capture
- Downloadable Information
- Standard Software Package
- USB Connection
- Tough and Rugged Casing
- Large & Clear Visible Screen
- Easily Carried, Held, Worn
- Digital Zoom
- High Temperature Capacity
There is no doubt that using a Thermal Camera for the Professional Rescue and Firefighting Teams provides an increased opportunity for safety and success for all first responders. This tool allows any operator to have the ability to increase the odds for saving life as well as add personal protection at their fingertips. Thermal Cameras allow the Firefighter in approaching fires more strategically and allow the professional to be able to detect additional combustibles and find hotspots quicker. Using a Thermal Camera will absolutely allow responders to rescue victims sooner. For additional product information for specific agency or department requirements, please call one of our Certified Thermal Professionals.
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