Reference Desk Include

Thermal Imaging Cameras

Two firefiighters demonstrating a thermal camera
Left to right,
Firefighters J.C. Sicard and Adam Papacs
The Northville City Fire Department (NCFD) has ordered two new thermal imaging cameras with video capabilities to help firefighters find the source of fire inside homes, offices, stores and other building interiors. The cameras supplement the department’s exterior thermal imaging cameras, which find the hottest point of a fire outside a building. The new cameras offer more advanced technology than the department’s two older interior thermal imaging cameras.

These cameras can also be used to find whether a fire is lurking beyond a surface. Sometimes the department gets a call because someone smells smoke in a building. Scanning the walls and ceiling with a thermal imaging camera can find whether or not a fire exists in the building.

The camera provides a visual image of the heat signs in an environment, which helps guide firefighters through dense smoke to locate the source of a fire or find persons who may be trapped and need to be rescued. The device can also assist in detecting possible fires behind walls, which may not be visible to the naked eye, said Fire Chief Steve Ott.

The scan be done in a fraction of the time of a hands-on inspection, which helps reduce the time it takes to contain a fire and may even save lives.

Two firefiighters demonstrating a thermal camera
The Northville City Fire Department
demonstrates the use of a thermal imaging camera.
“If you put your hand up against a wall, then removed it and looked at the wall through the thermal imaging camera, you would clearly see the hand print on the wall, because your hand made that part of the wall warmer than the rest,” Fire Chief Ott said.

“In a firefighting situation, where a person may be down on the floor in a room filled with smoke so thick that you cannot see, the camera would display the shape of the person. This makes it a valuable tool for search and rescue operations,” he added.

The Northville City Council approved the purchase of two new FLIR K55 thermal imaging cameras on June 20, 2016. The purchase of the two new units will bring to six the total number of fire-seeking devices – four interior and two exterior cameras. This purchase will equip all front-line firefighting vehicles with a camera for its crew. The Northville City Fire Department serves the cities of Northville and Plymouth and provides mutual aid for the City of Novi and Plymouth Township.


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