One of the most advanced pieces of equipment to come along for firefighters in recent years is the thermal imaging system. This apparatus virtually lets firefighters see in the dark. The new technology enables people who are trapped in burning buildings to be located more easily and sources of fires to be readily identified.

What is a thermal imaging system?

In terms of saving lives, thermal imaging technology is the most significant advancement in fire fighting technology in over 100 years. The technology is similar to the Night Vision systems used in Desert Storm. Thermal imaging systems see different degrees of temperature. The system forms an image on a monitor. The technology can now be used for finding a victims in the smoke of a fire.

How do thermal imaging systems increase property and life saving potential?

When firefighters enter a burning building, they see nothing – nothing at all. They literally crawl across the floor feeling for victims. Thermal imaging systems turn a dark, dangerous environment into the light of day. Victims can be easily spotted and rescued. Even children, who have hidden under beds or in closets to escape the fire, can be easily located. Thermal Imaging Systems can also be used to detect hazardous materials, and help located bodies thrown from autos during nighttime accidents.

How much do thermal imaging systems cost?

Depending on the brand and specifications, each thermal imaging system costs about $25,000. The cost of saving a human life with the use of a thermal imaging system —PRICELESS. As the firefighter enters a smoke-filled environment, he/she can literally see everything in the room. A thermal imaging system sees temperature variances to .5 degrees. The system forms an image on the monitor similar to how a video camera sees different degrees of light and forms an image for viewing. Most fires generate room temperatures of between 200 and 1,200 degrees. The 98.6 degree body temperature of a victim will form an easily detectable image of a human being on the monitor. The image will immediately be known to be a child or other victim needing help.