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How Thermal Imaging Cameras Help Firefighters See Through Smoke

by Marcus
How Thermal Imaging Cameras Help Firefighters See Through Smoke

How Thermal Imaging Cameras Help Firefighters See Through Smoke

Firefighters need their eyesight the most, as they go in and out quenching fire outbreaks. Apart from other effects of fire outbreaks, smoke is one that can easily hinder the progress of the firefighter and act as a barrier to them performing effectively. Thermal imaging cameras allow you to see things not prominent to the human eyes, see through heat and temperature differences.

For firefighters, thermal imaging cameras have been introduced to offer a better chance of seeing through smoke, locating, and rescuing victims, identifying hot spots, maneuvering, and staying focused during their mission. The thermal imaging cameras do these by detecting heat, smoke or dust using short wave infrared or SWIR thermal imaging and visualizing the information.

How Thermal Imaging Cameras Help Firefighters See Through Smoke

Firefighters need their eyesight the most, as they go in and out quenching fire outbreaks. Apart from other effects of fire outbreaks, smoke is one that can easily hinder the progress of the firefighter and act as a barrier to them performing effectively. Thermal imaging cameras allow you to see things not prominent to the human eyes, see through heat and temperature differences.

For firefighters, thermal imaging cameras have been introduced to offer a better chance of seeing through smoke, locating, and rescuing victims, identifying hot spots, maneuvering, and staying focused during their mission. The thermal imaging cameras do these by detecting heat, smoke or dust using short wave infrared or SWIR thermal imaging and visualizing the information.

The Core Importance of Thermal Cameras in Firefighting

How Thermal Imaging Cameras Help Firefighters See Through Smoke

Viewing an image with the use of a thermal imaging camera is not the same as viewing objects under normal light with the human eye; as details of the object detected on camera may not be clearly visible and the depth perception may be different from other cameras.

Normal cameras create images using light, but thermal imaging cameras rely on the genius electromagnetic energy that radiates from heat- creating visual images that the naked eye cannot see. As such, these cameras can sense emission of heat through various filters which include smoke, dust, doors or walls; indicating if they are hot or cold and if there will likely be a lot of heat on the other side of the door or wall. Additionally, even if the heat is not actually coming from these points, thermal imaging cameras can detect the energy reflected from water or mirrors. Even with this broad range of service delivery, note that thermal cameras for firefighters only detect differences in thermal signals and they do not provide night vision capabilities.

Application of Thermal Cameras for Firefighting

Thermal cameras for firefighting are super useful, since temperature values can be read from the image generated. Firefighters can see through a thermal imaging camera because it contains a large component of micron-sized carbon soot particles, which visible light absorbs easily.

When the particle size is significantly smaller than the wavelength of light used by a sensor, the scattering greatly reduces, making it possible for the firefighters to see through the smoke. Though all thermal imaging cameras have an infrared sensor that picks most of the infrared wavelengths in the field of view, many also have visual light lenses that create an image to superimpose over the infrared image, providing more context and detail to the infrared image.

How Thermal Imaging Cameras Help Firefighters See Through Smoke

A thermal image without FLIR’s Flexible Scene Enhancement, or FSX, (left), and a thermal image with Flexible Scene Enhancement (right).

Source: https://res.cloudinary.com/tbmg/c_scale,w_600,f_auto,q_auto/v1502862905/tb/articles/sup/IT/2015/features/55596-140_fig4.png .

Uses of Thermal Imaging Cameras for Firefighters

  1. To help detect trapped victims

Firefighting thermal cameras readily detect body heat and heat from fires so a firefighter can quickly scan a room for victims, easily locate any victims trapped in the fire outbreak through the smoke. As sometimes victims are unconscious and unable to call for help.

  1. To serve as electrical hotspots

These special thermal cameras can identify overheating of electrical equipment and hot spots in walls, assess circuit boards, fuse boxes, and identify the source of the electrical problem.

How Thermal Imaging Cameras Help Firefighters See Through Smoke
  1. To locate missing persons

Again, thermal cameras have genius mechanisms that enable them to sense people in the dark or grey areas, helping to locate missing persons through the heat signal given off by their footprints and more.

  1. To accurately assess a fire

This is a very important use of thermal cameras. They easily assess fires: even from outside the affected building. Hence, they help firefighters locate hotspots inside of walls and ceilings; detecting potential threats. As such, thermal imaging cameras give firefighters the ability to see a fire outbreak and fire wholly, by allowing them to observe multiple aspects of the outbreak or potential outbreak all at once.

Conclusion

Thermal imaging cameras come highly recommended for firefighters, helping them see through smoke and carry out their already difficult (howbeit important) jobs, with clarity and precision.

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