In this age of the fire service, most jurisdictions have at least one thermal imaging camera, if not several. Ideally, we would like to have one on every apparatus. But, of course, budgets and priorities will dictate how many each department feels they can afford and need.
What was once a tool advertised mainly to find victims in building fires, we have found many more uses for this piece of equipment. It can be used for hazardous materials responses to identify product that may be producing heat. It can be used to help find a lost person in open space outdoors. We can use it to check for extension after a small stove fire or for chasing down fire in concealed spaces.
For as many uses as we can name, and I by no means named them all, there are multiple ways that they are deployed. My preference is for the officer to come off of the truck or engine with the TIC. Everyone has their own method of operation, but to me the officer makes the most sense.
The officer should be behind the nozzleman and should watching changing conditions at all times. While doing this, it is easy for him to scan the room or area with the TIC to watch for heat currents, changes in temperatures or victims unseen because of smoke. These again are not the only things that the officer needs to be doing.
So, the question that I am posing is “Who takes the TIC and how do you deploy it?” What are your guidelines and how do you operate with it?
In addition, how does it get carried? Do you prefer a strap? Do you carry it in your hand? Give everyone some input and ideas about what does and has worked for you.
What are some other uses not mentioned and offer some training ideas for the folks here? Just remember, this is a tool and should not take the place of masterful search techniques and hard work.
Stay safe and train like you work, hard.