The Danger of the Spot Temperature

//The Danger of the Spot Temperature

In traveling and teaching our curriculum, we continue to see a dangerous trend in TIC use. Many firefighters only read the numerical temperature reading in the lower right corner of the view finder otherwise known as the “spot temperature” or direct temperature measurement.

This is a very dangerous issue. Here is why: The spot temperature is a numerical representation of the average of a certain amount of pixels within the focal point (or cross hairs) at a preset distance set by the manufacturer. This spot temperature is NOT an accurate representation of the overall environment. As you can see in the first photo, the fire is obviously hotter than 87 degrees Fahrenheit! But the spot temperature of 87 degrees of the concrete wall is an approximate calculation of that average of the pixels within that spot but NOT an accurate representation of overall environment.

As you can see, the environment is over 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This is called “reading the palette.” As firefighters we must look at the big picture. We view the overall inicdent therefore we must view the overall thermal environment. Continually assess, continually mitigate, and trust your training. The spot temperature should be used for individual diagnostics (such as overhaul, locating overheated components etc.) not for strategic decision making.

Thanks for your time and your passion!

Instructor Andy Starnes
Insight Training LLC
KTF Burns Deputy Chief