”One of the last things one might expect to be a problem when fighting a fire might be visibility – it’s not as if there weren’t any light – but many deaths can be attributed to that very factor. Firefighters often can’t see through the extremes of sooty smoke and blazing “whiteout” to spot people in need of rescue, or even dangers to themselves. Fires can also build explosive pressures behind walls and doorways, hidden until it’s too late to escape the eruption.
New generations of thermal imaging cameras promise to give firefighters an edge that some say has already saved their lives. The Evolution 4000 from Pittsburgh’s MSA (formerly the Mine Safety Appliances Company) is a handheld camera with a five inch diagonal, high definition screen that represents heat in color gradients. The larger screen allows an entire rescue team to view the area head; information shared not only helps firefighters to coordinate their instructions but also allows more eyes and brains to spot vital pieces of information than a commander alone. Further enhancing that strength is the optional wireless video transmitter that let’s experts at base command see the mission as it unfolds. And the rechargeable primary and backup batteries guarantee three hours of uninterrupted service.”