New Thermal Imaging Cameras Allow Firefighters to Work More Efficiently in Emergency Situations

The Cleveland Division of Fire has debuted a new tool – handheld thermal imaging cameras (TICs) – in each fire company across the city that will help them serve neighborhoods more efficiently.

“Thermal imaging cameras are an essential tool for firefighters to save time in emergency situations in which every second counts,” said Mayor Frank G. Jackson. “These new cameras will allow all fire companies in the City of Cleveland to provide a better quality of service to all neighborhoods.”

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The new cameras allow firefighters to see through smoke and darkness to identify where people and fires are in emergencies. TICs have long been carried on Cleveland Fire Ladders and Rescue Squads, but the purchase of 50 new TICs will place them on all 24 Cleveland Fire Engine Companies stationed across Cleveland.

The TIC measures temperature gradients of different objects, which is the heat energy they give off. The TIC is often used to check for heat profiles in walls and ceilings to let Firefighters know if there is heat or fire inside before damaging the structure by opening up the walls and ceilings.

“These new thermal imaging cameras will allow multiple fire officers to survey the scene and act quickly,” said Cleveland Fire Chief Angelo Calvillo. “When our vision is limited by smoke or darkness, these TICs give our team a valuable tool to assess the whole situation. More TICs means more information for Cleveland firefighters.”

TICs are useful for search and rescue operations, enabling firefighters to see more efficiently at night. For example, if a motor vehicle accident occurs at night, the TIC can be used to scan an area to find an ejected victim. For a water rescue, the TIC can spot victims on top of the water. Hazardous materials crews can use the TIC to assess the contents of a container or tanker by scanning it and looking at the heat differential between the area with liquid product and the air space above.