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So far Andy Starnes has created 30 blog entries.

Training Bulletin-Training with Artificial Smoke


The fire service has experienced a significant increase in fire prevention codes the response of operations personnel to fires has significantly decreased. With the overall reduction in fires, this has the often reduces the ability of firefighters to gain on the job experience. Many Fire Departments are having to think of more creative ways to create realistic conditions for firefighters to train in that has a minimum impact on a departments budget. To combat local, state, and federal regulations, departments have turned to smoke generators and various types of smoke simulants. For the sake of this training bulletin, we will concentrate [...]

Training Bulletin-Training with Artificial Smoke2021-01-18T13:47:13-05:00

Tactical 360 for the Safety Officer by Instructor John Lightly


Firefighters and Incident Commanders are taught the importance of performing a 360* size-up on each and every emergency response that they respond to.  Whether it is a multi-car pile-up on a major roadway, a residential structure fire, or a simple citizen assist call, crews are trained to look over the situation and gather as much information as they can.  It is considered a basic task in the sequence of fire ground actions.  Sadly, many injuries, near misses, and line of duty deaths have occurred in part because a 360* size-up was not performed. Thermal imaging cameras (TICs) have been around the [...]

Tactical 360 for the Safety Officer by Instructor John Lightly2021-01-17T18:39:41-05:00

The Tactical 360-Enhancing Fire-ground Strategies and Tactics


 In the fire service today, we are seeing a decrease in the overall number of fires, but we are seeing that these fires are rapidly developing due to the higher heat release rates of the contents and construction components. The research performed by Project Kill the Flashover, UL, and NIST all have shown that the fires we experience are reaching the point of flashover in as little as a few minutes in some cases.   Why a Tactical 360? Have we considered thermal considerations in our size-up? What about smoke showing vs heat showing? Why would we ask such questions? Because of [...]

The Tactical 360-Enhancing Fire-ground Strategies and Tactics2021-01-17T18:11:55-05:00

The Dark Side: The Power of Cold


In thermal imaging, firefighters are trained to recognize areas of concern based on heat. However, areas that are cold, appear cold, or that are dark should not be overlooked. The use of thermal imaging in industry is often used more to look for leaks, air infiltration/exfiltration, and thermal bridging where heat is being lost. This is demonstrated in the following inspection photo (provided by Infrared Training Center) where we see heat loss in the uninsulated portion of the attic stairs. In an environment where every second counts, firefighters should be aware of areas with lesser temperatures as this is often where [...]

The Dark Side: The Power of Cold2020-05-08T17:27:23-04:00

The Power of Grey Scale


The Power of Grey Scale: With the recent release of UL’s research paper on “Evaluation of Thermal Imaging Camera Spot Temperature Measurements in Structure Fires” (see link below) We have had many discussions with fire service professionals on two very important topics in thermal imaging: Color PalettesThe Spot Temperature Firefighters need to understand the power and the value of each of these concepts. Notice in the following video, the firefighters are seated around the corner from a fire room. Without proper training and understanding, a firefighter would be inclined to think they are in a low temperature environment. However, this [...]

The Power of Grey Scale2020-03-28T12:00:18-04:00

Spring Time Safety Tip


Spontaneous Combustion Anyone? Each year, there are many fires that occur from this phenomena that involve: MulchLandfillsSilosRecycling PlantsAnd more… What causes this to occur? As seen in this short video, the surface temperatures of this 3’ mulch pile were “apparent temperatures” of approximately 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Whereas when we rake back the mulch just a few inches under the surface we see “apparent temperatures” of anywhere between 110-130 Degrees Fahrenheit. As wood decomposes, it creates heat. This heat can be sufficient enough to start a fire and in many cases it will be a smoldering fire that can go unnoticed for [...]

Spring Time Safety Tip2020-03-18T12:06:48-04:00

Identifying the Thermal Layer?


In many fire behavior/thermal imaging classes, identification of the thermal layer is taught to assist in identification of overall severity of conditions.  However, if we don't know/understand our TIC this can cause us great harm as this is two TIC's looking at the same fire. The thermal layer is defined as the line or space between the superheated areas and the cold area below. This is not to be confused with the concept known as a neutral plane. The neutral plane is the area between the exhaust and the intake at an opening and can only be identified once an opening [...]

Identifying the Thermal Layer?2020-03-15T20:48:38-04:00

Impressed With Colorization? Don’t be! Here is why by Instructor Joey Baxa


Impressed by All the Cool Colors? Don't be fooled... Not all palettes or application modes are intended for fire ground use. Some manufacturers include palettes that are used in the industrial setting to find and better highlight problems with temperature differences that are low compared to the differences in temperature found on the fire ground.  For example this is what the User Manual for the Seek Reveal FirePRO states concerning the "Color" mode (commonly referred to as Rainbow):  "This is a demonstration mode and is best-suited for the classroom, which highlights areas of heat in red with colorful borders as the [...]

Impressed With Colorization? Don’t be! Here is why by Instructor Joey Baxa2020-03-08T08:15:47-04:00

Understanding Distance to Spot Ratio


Understanding Distance to Spot Ratio: In thermal imaging, the two most critical attributes are emissivity and distance to spot ratio. However, these two areas are often neglected, misunderstood, or totally incorrectly shared with firefighters. For example, many firefighters tend to 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 number of pixels within the focal point (or cross hairs) at a preset distance [...]

Understanding Distance to Spot Ratio2020-02-14T21:30:02-05:00

Don’t Obtain Thermal Imaging; Train on Thermal Imaging by Instructor Joey Baxa


When travelling to conferences or training weekends teaching thermal imaging to firefighters we are repeatedly asked which brand camera is the best? While everybody has their preferences, the more practical is “the one you have been thoroughly trained to use.” Sure, there are differences between color palettes, grips, and sensitivity modes but, that is an object focused mentality. How competently you apply the camera to your operations will mean more than the name the case bares. Much of the United States fire service has failed in this area for the last couple decades. The technology integrated into the cameras has far [...]

Don’t Obtain Thermal Imaging; Train on Thermal Imaging by Instructor Joey Baxa2020-01-10T10:28:54-05:00