Thermal Imaging-Understanding High & Low Sensitivity. This short article is an attempt to clarify a few misconceptions in regard to fire service thermal imaging cameras. All fire service thermal imaging cameras automatically switch gains or sensitivity modes based on the following: The overall heat detected within the field of viewAnd at a certain percentage of pixels affectedThe majority of fire service TIC’s are dual mode sensitivity which is known asHigh & Low Sensitivity. The NFPA 1801 requirement states that when a LWIR (Long Wave Infrared) fire service TIC switches to Low Sensitivity a green equilateral triangle will appear in the upper [...]
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So far Andy Starnes has created 12 blog entries.
The following speech was given at the FIERO 2019 PPE Symposium... “PPE Thermal Limits are designed to protect the firefighter to a tested specified limit, yet our tactics do not consider these limits when placing the firefighter into these IDLH environments. We need to transform our processes to provide these tactical approaches. We have the tools, yet we refuse to modify these SOPs. If we know better and do not, we are negligent! Learn about the changes needed.” Chief Joe Starnes-Founder Project Kill the Flashover. What affects everything we do each day? Temperature, Weather, and the exposure to those elements. What [...]
Have you noticed that there are numerous color palettes and color temperature associations with fire service thermal imaging cameras? Why is this so? Doesn’t NFPA 1801 standardize this issue and prevent confusing color temperature associations? Sadly, this isn’t the case. This is the NFPA 1801 approved color/temperature progression for thermal imaging cameras under the TI Basic Color Palette (black, grey, white, yellow, orange & red). According to NFPA 1801 (Standard for Thermal Imagers for the Fire Service section 188.8.131.52.2 & 184.108.40.206.3) colors should meet the following criteria: “Colorization shall overlay the grayscale thermal images produced by the thermal imager. Details [...]
Firefighters need to be aware of the importance of fundamental search methods and the limitations of thermal imaging cameras. There are several TIC manufacturers that falsely advertise that their brand of TIC will “see” through steam. This is inherently dangerous and a false statement for them to spread because in many cases the TIC will not be able to see through dense steam, cold smoke situations (created by sprinklers), or high moisture content environments. Why can’t a TIC see through steam/moisture? First of all, TIC’s don’t “see” through anything. A fire service TIC detects long wave infrared radiation (LWIR) which is [...]
Do you know the Two main types of Fire Service Thermal Imaging Cameras? Don’t be fooled by low price! You will find that you get what you pay for… There is a lot of confusion in the fir service today about thermal imaging cameras. Many departments are purchasing TIC’s such as the FLIR K2, the Scott Sight, the MSA ITIC or the SEEK. These devices are situational awareness cameras and NOT decision making TIC’s. They have a specific purpose and are often misused. What does this mean exactly? A situational awareness TIC is solely designed to prevent disorientation. It is used [...]
Thermal Imaging Mode Confusion: Firefighters need to be aware of when the camera switches modes and the color ranges associated with it. TIC's have modes based upon sensitivity which are typically high, medium, and low. For example, one camera switches from high sense mode at 350 degrees Fahrenheit while another switches to low sense mode at anything over 200 degrees Fahrenheit. How fast it changes especially if we are staying locked in on the same focal point should alert us to a rapid progression of the fire this impending flash-over. For example, a given reaction will increase its rate 100 [...]
The use of thermal imaging cameras has enhanced the firefighter’s overall effectiveness particularly in the area of searching for victims or downed firefighters. In the late 90’s several large and well-known fire departments were invited to participate in a study. They were given two identical search scenarios: one conducted without a TIC and one conducted with a TIC. The results were staggering. Without the use of a TIC the search crews missed the victims 60% of the time whereas they found the victim with the TIC while searching 99% of the time. In addition to this the total search time was [...]
In our recent training at Ottawa Fire, Shawn Bloemker and I instructed firefighters on the value of enhanced stream placement. This is one of many concepts that Project Kill the Flashover advocates in our Tactical Thermal Imaging Program. The video above shows the stream being directed by the TIC at our training at Monroe Fire Department (video courtesy of a FLIR K65) In this short video below (video courtesy of Bullard LDX), one can see the moving convection heat currents over the firefighters head that are often missed due to zero visibility. This can be compared to being in [...]
Thermal Imaging Training Series: Tactical TIC use is not a thermometer With the recent release of the UL Fire Attack Study, we have received numerous questions about the reliability of TIC use in the fire environment. After reviewing the very short section on thermal imaging in their report there are several common statements that were already known in regards to thermal imaging that firefighters may not been aware of it but our curriculum teaches. The following quote comes from page 167 of the report: “Further, the sensors in the thermal imagers are designed for a range of wavelengths which allow them [...]
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 [...]