Thermal imaging cameras provide firefighters with the ability to see through smoke and darkness, allowing them to locate potential victims much quicker than searching without them. Thermal imaging cameras or TICs as they are commonly referred to, have been used in the fire service since 1996. Walton Fire-Rescue currently owns seven TICs, purchased nearly 10 years ago through a grant opportunity.
On Monday, July 13, Walton Fire-Rescue, in coordination with DeFuniak Springs Fire, began field testing various cameras that are currently available on the market. In order to provide the best value to the County, the fire department has been researching various manufacturers’ models, features and pricing. Features such as size, durability and simplicity in operation were among the main items that were tested by the department.
“We have money budgeted and hope to be able to purchase two cameras this fiscal year,” said Battalion Chief James McMillan. “One will replace a ten year old camera and the other will be used to augment the cameras we currently have.”
In addition to allowing firefighters to find victims quicker, TICs also add to firefighter safety, identifying elevated temperature ranges, detecting hidden fires, locating missing persons and use on hazardous material incidents.
“New technology has added more features and made the cameras smaller and lighter,” said Russell Beaty, Walton County emergency management director. “The streamlining of the new products makes them easier for firefighters to carry and use”
Monday’s field tests involved firefighters performing in “live fire” evolutions wearing full gear and advancing hose lines while evaluating a specific brand of camera provided by the manufacturer. Additional brands will be evaluated in upcoming field tests to identify the camera which best meets the needs of the department and provides the best value.