The Towering Inferno. Hellfighters. Backdraft. These are just some of the famous Hollywood movies that truly depict the life of a firefighter. But unlike in the movies, the fate of a firefighter may not have a blissful ending.
Becoming a well-equipped firefighter is never an easy task. Just like in the movies that I’ve mentioned, firefighters lay everything on the line, even their lives, especially if they are on a mission. This is why it’s always important for them to be alert and to have reliable combat equipment.
If you’re planning to become a professional firefighter, you will have to endure and pass at least six months of extensive training. However, in spite of these preparations that the firefighters go through, if things turn south, their life might still be in danger anytime. We never know because unwanted circumstances like miscalculations and misjudged actions during their mission could happen.
As a matter of fact, in the latest report from the National Fire Protection Association or NFPA, 60 firefighters in the United States have been killed while on duty in the year 2017. Onset accidents like exposure to toxins and smoke inhalation are two of the main reasons for these deaths. Tragedies like these have then led researchers and the government to look for a solution. They tried different ways on how to lower or prevent such accidents from happening. Until they discovered the technological prowess of a thermal imaging camera, which they believe could be helpful, thus the device has been introduced to their arsenal.
Developed for the sole purpose of helping soldiers during the Korean War, the thermal imaging camera or thermal imager was also deemed to be a device that could assist firefighters on their mission.
The Captain of Clackamas Fire District in the United States, Jason Ellison, even mentioned that “Thermal imagers have allowed us to see in situations where it’s nearly impossible to with the naked eye. Obviously, inside a fire environment, it’s incredibly smoky and dark, and we don’t know the layout of the building. Thermal Imaging Cameras show us the way through so we can move swiftly, look for the seat of the fire, look for victims; basically, they help provide a very effective roadmap.”
Aside from the bunker gear that consists of protective trousers, boots, hood, protective coat, helmets, and work gloves, firefighters also need fire hose, a fire ax, ladder, hydrant, and their sledgehammer to survive their mission. They need these things for their rescue operations. And with the addition of thermal imaging cameras into their combat equipment, our fire service has seen tremendous improvements all around the world, especially in the United States.
The usage of a thermal imaging camera to help out firefighters became the center of attention for a lot of people. It was even stated in the Los Angeles Times that, “the thermal imaging camera is perhaps the best advance in fire equipment in the last 25 years.”
Normally, a thermal camera allows firefighters to see through darkness or thick smoke, but it does not stop there because the device also has the ability to do the following:
And lastly, after the fire has been extinguished and the survivors have been rescued, firefighters use their thermal imaging cameras to check and detect fire extensions. By doing this, it will prevent unnecessary damage to the building or any infrastructure by blindly opening walls and ceilings for overhauling. This only proves that a thermal imaging camera can really be a helpful tool for our firefighters.
As far as I know, firefighters do not only respond to burning infrastructures or houses, because they also cater to other incidents like wildfires and crashes. To give you an idea of what I’m saying, here are the following four cases where firefighters could showcase the technological advancement of a thermal imaging camera:
Whenever there are vehicle accidents and crashes, firefighters are always racing against time and also they face great danger in doing so. Most of these accidents happen at night where it is hard to see hazardous things.
For instance, if a gas tanker or transport vehicle has overturned there is a big possibility that its fuel will spill. For ordinary people, the spilled fuel is going to be hard to identify, especially at night. However, because firefighters are now using thermal imaging cameras they will be able to identify the fuel because of its different heat temperature.
As part of their first aid training, it is actually common for firefighters to also be called upon to look for missing people. And covering large search areas in all sorts of conditions will require huge manpower. In these situations, firefighters should also consider the fact that there is only a small window of opportunity to locate missing people.
But now that our firefighters are equipped with thermal imaging cameras, either the missing person is inside a cave or the rescue team is searching under poor weather conditions, they will surely find the victim because of his or her body temperature, which is also in contrast with its surroundings.
In the United States of America, wildfires are considered a normal behavior of nature. They are fires that take place in vegetation in the countryside or even rural areas. Wildfires have the capacity to create massive forest fires and bushfires, which millions of Americans are afraid of.
Given the volatile and serious nature of these fires, firefighters need to access and determine the actual size of the fire and the extent of its spread. With the tested prowess of the thermal imaging camera, they could use it on the ground and in the air to access the spread of the flame accurately. Because of this additional information, firefighters can already prevent themselves from being engulfed by the rapid spread of fire. They can also plan ahead and halt the progress.
Indeed, thermal imaging cameras are indispensable tools when it comes to our firefighters. They use the said device to scope dangerous materials first.
When a hazardous material has been mixed with a water component it is going to be hard for firefighters or anyone to detect it, especially if they do not have the right tools. But with the help of a thermal imager, firefighters will surely have a better chance of locating the dangerous material or substance and create further plans on how to prevent the material from spreading.
Actually, the primary tasks of a fireman are to suppress the fire, rescue victims, prevent fire, execute basic first aid, and investigate the cause of the fire. For a regular person, this may be a lot to handle, however, now that thermal imaging cameras are becoming useful tools for firefighters, the success rate of their missions will surely improve and their safety will be secured.
To date, thermal imaging cameras have already evolved, to the point where they do not just cater to firefighters anymore but to different industries as well. But in spite of the device’s growing usage, more companies are still manufacturing thermal cameras that could be utilized by firefighters around the globe.
Perfect Prime is one company that is slowly becoming a household name when it comes to manufacturing and selling thermal cameras that are easy to use, durable, and effective. According to critics, Perfect Prime has a selection of handheld thermal imaging cameras with additional features of digital temperature display and multiple live heat spot detection. That is why if you are planning to purchase a top of the line thermal imager, this innovative company will definitely offer you the absolute best buys when it comes to thermal imaging cameras.
For the record, there is an approximate number of more than 600 firefighting companies in the United States that have already implemented the use of thermal cameras to save more lives and property. This astounding figure is a living testimony that thermal imaging cameras are here to better not just the services of our firefighters but also the lives of many people.