Tech Zone

Aerial Thermal Imaging Aids Fireground Strategy

Issue 5 and Volume 162.

BY STEVEN SKINNER Times are tough, and today’s economic climate is forcing the fire service to achieve more with less than ever before. Through interagency cooperation, Tampa (FL) Fire Rescue (TFR) is accomplishing that goal. Using available technology, TFR has enhanced its operational safety and effectiveness at minimal additional cost to its citizens. Working closely with the Tampa Police Department, TFR has incorporated airborne forward-looking infrared (FLIR) imaging technology into its on-scene operations. Originally developed for the military, a FLIR image enables the user to see the amount of thermal energy (heat) an object emits. Heat in the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum behaves much like visible light and can be optically focused and collected. To create an image, the infrared camera uses a special lens designed to collect thermal energy, which then heats various internal materials, thus changing their electrical properties. This change transforms the infrared energy to…

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