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Thermal Imaging SOG's

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  • Thermal Imaging SOG's

    I am interested in copies of other departments SOG's on the use of their thermal imager. Thanks in advance.

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    All engines are fitted with a roof mounted with a headup display for the driver and the passenger’s seat. A VCR automatically records the imager. A hand held thermal imager is also carried on every rig. The purpose of the system is to allow the company officer and driver to drive through and see through dense smoke and position the unit in a command position. The imager is pointed towards the fire building on arrival. On grass fires the imager scans for downed wires, flying brands and hazards.


    The company officer shall sizeup the structure fire using the imager to locate the fire floor, side of the structure involved, and extent of fire extension into other floors or attic. The best position for the command unit to view the structure is to see at least three sides on the way in on detached buildings by driving by and stopping the unit on a corner. On commercial buildings the command unit sets up in a collapse free area.

    Exposures shall be scanned to determine actual thermal load and probability of risk to adjoining exposures. Tripod mounted imagers with data links will be setup to view the rear of structures and broadcast back to the command unit.

    No fire shall be attacked unless it has been scanned for crew safety!

    After the structure and exposures are scanned command shall give a condition report to responding companies.

    Example: “Dispatch Engine 53 on-scene at 4411 Honker establishing Honker IC. We have a two story frame dwelling with a ground floor fire on side three and heavy heat build up on the second floor. We have a single story dwelling exposed on side 3 requiring action. Truck 1 operate an unmanned master stream on the exposure and pull an attack line to the front door.”


    The crew compartment carries a hand held imager for the rescue crew or attack line. All imager wearers shall carry a portable radio to stay in constant contact with Operations or Command. They shall answer up to COMMAND as RESCUE and ATTACK.

    The imager will go in with the attack and rescue crews on all calls. All imagers are setup with a wireless digital data links to broadcast images of what the camera views to the command unit. Each engine is setup with video recorders and TV’s to view transmitted images.

    Any door with more than a 40% thermal load is shouting watch out, it shall not be entered until ventilation and a hose line are in place to avoid flashover or back draft. The crews should constantly scan the entire room looking for victims, firefighters in trouble, and fire extension. Watch for ceiling level heat wave build up and report it. The scanning process will greatly improve firefighter situational awareness and in the event the imager should fail the crew leader will have a much better feel for his surrounding.

    The Command unit will be viewing what your seeing from the exterior will be able to tract crew progress and fire growth. Crew members must stay in contact with the imager wearer.


    The thermal imager will greatly speed fire scene search operations. It is essential the primary search be carried out as quickly as possible by rapidly walking or leaning over and covering as much territory as possible. As you fly through the building report to Operations anything viewed that he should know about.

    Block off dangerous conditions like holes in the floor, hanging wires, etc.

    Close doors to retard fire extension. Start above the fire with your search or beside the fire on single family dwellings. Each floor should take no longer than three minutes.

    Crews shall ventilate as they go in high heat or extremely dense smoke conditions allowing outside companies to view interior progress.

    Crew members must stay in contact with the imager wearer. Remember, to look for thermal hand prints on doors, walls and floors. Report these to command. Look for thermal signatures on all chairs and beds and report the number of recent users of each. Sound an “all clear” as soon as possible then assign the imager to the next crew to perform a more through secondary search.


    The imager shall be used before and after knockdown to check for fire extension. The imager shall be taken through the attic on all room and contents, kitchen, electrical, or fireplace fires. The imager can look through sheet rock, lathe and plaster, and acoustical ceiling tile.


    On all incidents beyond room and contents fires all TVs and video recorders in the command unit shall be on viewing ATTACK and RESCUE crews. The command units vehicle mounted imager shall be focused to view two sides of the structure and the second ins imager shall view the other two sides of the structure.

    Command will be turned to the correct page of the Fire Attack Guide and have the appropriate building prefire and site plan in hand during all interior operations. Use the floor plans to track crew position in the building. Constantly monitor the radio transmitting PASS devices of all wearers and maintain entry times and plan for air consumption relief.

    The IC or deputy IC shall keep constant radio contact with interior companies and monitor the TV images to insure crew safety and tactical success. Watch for crew progress and hazards. Withdraw companies if visible heat levels do not dissipate with water application or if crews cannot keep lines advancing, Keep an eye on the monitor to insure the fire does not run the **** loft or attic above the attack crews. Make sure roof crews vent where indicated with the imager. False ceilings may block product of combustion release but it will be very evident through the imager. Viewing masonry walls with the vehicle system will show potential areas of collapse long before failure.


    The RIT teams will be asigned an imager and whenever possible will be lead by the deputy IC who has viewed thermal images of the incident to that point. Don’t be afraid to rewind the video recorders to get a better handle on the situation for the RIT team.


    Use the imager to view levels of flammable liquid tanks or pressure vessels. To determine effectiveness of cooling streams, to monitor vapor clouds or gas releases.


    Vehicle mounted imagers will allow crews to penetrate thick smoke and darkness and attack the head or flanks of wildland fires. It will allow the crew to see the topography, obscured fences, ditches, and other problems before they become an obstacle or trap. It will help you avoid running into civilian foot and vehicle traffic as they flee wildland areas. The imager should be used to look for downed power lines before crews dismount the apparatus. Wood shake roofs and structures can be viewed to determine which is the most at risk and allow command to better allocate resources. Imaging Class A foam, Compressed Air Foam Streams CAF’s and Gel operations to insure coverage of effected materials. Smoke columns can be viewed to determine the amount of flying brands and direction of likely fallout.


    All fires will be completely viewed and recorded to insure the fire is out before releasing companies.


    The fire attack guide spells out specifics for imager use on each type of fire or rescue incident.

    MUTUAL AID Remember, that mutual aid companies don’t have a clue what an imager is and will think we are performing our assignments recklessly. The information the imager(s) provide allows us to see through smoke and darkness and not work by seat of the pants judgment but base our actions on the reality of the situation.

    Always check the battery level before walking away from the apparatus.
    Carry a second battery.
    Make sure a rag is available to wipe the camera lens in thick smoke.
    Steam or fog build up or high carbon smoke on the view finder may fog vision, wipe as needed.
    Exercise extreme caution with the delicate camera.

    With the roof mounted imagers: Leave the unit on white hot and scan during response.


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