Fire Fighting and Rescue Operation

Thermal imaging camera for firefighting

Thermal Camera for Fire Fighting

Thermal imaging camera are excellent tools for firefighters to use to see through smoke or darkness, quickly identifying sources of fire or the heat signature of an unseen victim. As in all fire situations, victims are hard to find and identify among the rubble and smoke especially if they have fallen unconscious on the floor, in their hiding spot or even in what would have been plain sight without the visual obscurities. Armed with this powerful tool, firefighters have been recorded to save multiple lives through the use of the thermal imaging camera identify where the victims are located. 


Beyond enabling firefighters to see through thick smoke, thermal imaging camera play another essential role in identifying materials that are very likely to spontaneously combust. For example, there was a case where a thermal imaging camera identified an abnormal heat signature in a granary. As a result of early detection, the source of the problem was removed and a large majority of the stocks were saved. Who knows what would've happened if it wasn't detected earlier.  


Here are also 5 other ways firefighters can use thermal imaging cameras;


  1. Overhaul & Extension

Once the firefighters have controlled the fires and rescued victims from the fire they must then do an overhaul which is opening walls, ceilings, partition, and voids to check for fire extensions. Handheld thermal imaging cameras are especially effective during the pre and post control phases in overhauling as it allows greater detection and does not restrict the user's line of sight as their head is free to move and keep aware of potential dangers as compared to a helmet mounted thermal imaging camera.

Furthermore, hand held thermal imaging cameras can offer additional features such as a digital temperature display, multiple image display options, wider screens for viewing and live multiple temperature heat spot detections.

Armed with this tool, firefighters can swiftly identify hot spots or lingering embers and control them straight away. This will not only minimize the damage of potential lingering fires, it also prevents unnecessary damage to the building by blindly opening walls and ceilings for overhauling.


  1. Vehicle Accidents and Crashes

Attending vehicle accidents and crashes are a race against time and often firefighters face great dangers in doing so. Most of these accidents occur at night where visibility is low and other difficult to see hazards may be present. For example,

If a gas tanker or transport vehicle has overturned there may be spilled fuel or other potentially hazardous liquids. This might not be easy to identify at night especially if firefighters are racing to save a victim. Using a thermal imaging camera, they can identify the liquid by its different temperature to the surface of the road.

Crash victims may get flung out from the vehicle or a child may run for help in the case of a heavily injured or unconscious adult, a quick scan of with the thermal imaging camera can help locate them.

Finally, the number of vehicles may not be clear to begin with and visibility might also be hampered by smoke from the vehicles or poor weather conditions such as fog or snow. The thermal imaging camera

Therefore a thermal imaging camera will be a vital equipment for enabling the firefighters to accomplish their job more safely and also allow the fire commander to keep track of his personnel and their safety.


  1. Search and Rescue

It is common for firefighters to also be called upon to search for missing adults or children. Having to cover large search areas in all sorts of conditions can require a large manpower and is time intensive as there is only a small window of opportunity to locate a missing person.

Fortunately, be it in light foliage, dark caves or under poor weather conditions a human body temperature contrast with its surroundings and is easily identifiable. Armed with this tool, less manpower can be deployed leaving reserves for other emergency cases and allows for greater efficiency in searches.


  1. Wildfire

Wildfires are fires that occur in vegetation in the countryside or rural areas. This can include forest fires and bushfires.

Given the serious and volatile nature of these fires, firefighters need to access and determine the size of the fire and the extent of its spread. They will use a thermal imaging camera on the ground and in the air to accurately access the spread of the fire. With this additional information, firefighters can prevent themselves from being engulfed by rapid spreads of the fire and can plan ahead and halting the progress.

This enormous operation often involves many vehicles to transport personnel and equipment to and from locations. The driver's view is often hampered by the dense smoke and can certainly benefit with a thermal imaging camera to identify existing personnel already deployed and obscured by smoke.


5. Hazardous Material Response

Finally, thermal imaging cameras are an indispensable tool for firefighters to first scope the hazardous material incident.  

As with fuel, other dangerous liquid materials are not easily identified with by the naked eye and can be seen with a thermal imaging camera instead as their temperature will be different to that of the surrounding surfaces.

Once the spread is identified, a firefighter can focus their attention to the source, determining how much material and whether it is stable or not inside their original containing is essential to the safety of all personnel.

Again, the thermal imaging camera plays another important role in this by seeing the different temperature between the empty space in the containing and the remaining material and also whether it is stable (if the temperature of it is raised or not).

If the hazardous material has moved to water then it becomes hard for firefighters to locate unless equipped with the right tools. Doing so, they have a better chance of locating the hazardous materials and creating plans to prevent further spread or containment procedures.

As a very powerful tool, thermal imaging cameras have been used by fire fighters to save lives among other important usages. Perfect Prime has a selection of handheld thermal imaging cameras with the additional features of digital temperature display and multiple live heat spot detection. Take a look now: