Thermal Imaging Camera Maintenance & Care Considerations

A fire service TIC has been designed to endure certain hardships of the demanding and unforgiving environment that firefighters often face. However, it is not indestructible. The following tips and recommendations will ensure that your thermal imaging camera will provide a long service life.

* Proper cleaning: Fire service TICs should be cleaned with a mild soap solution only. Avoid pain removers, degreasers or solvents as this may damage the housing that protects it from water and dust intrusion. This may sound trivial but we have seen fire departments use harsh solvents and wire brushes on these devices only to find out later that they had damaged their costly investment.

* Proper Use: A fire service TIC is a qualitative device designed to provide approximate measurements and not exact measurements. It should not be pointed at extreme heat objects that will damage the detector such as: the sun, a plasma cutter, high powered lasers etc. A fire service TIC pointed at the sun will damage the detector & void the warranty. This often occurs by accident, when a firefighter doff’s his/her gear & drops the TIC on the ground & inadvertently leaves it pointing up at the sun. This is actually a very common problem and it is listed in every manufacturers instructions that the “TIC should not be pointed at extreme sources of radiant heat such as the sun.”

* Proper Carry: The Fire Service TIC should be strapped to the firefighter in whatever means they deem most comfortable and for ease of use. However it is not to be dragged, used as a hammer to break out windows, or left in the fire as this will ultimately damage the TIC requiring repair and or replacement. While storing it on the apparatus, it is recommended to be either in the truck charger or in a tool bag. At Insight Training, we are not “big fans” of the retractable cord due to the issues it often creates. We have seen firefighters entangled where the cord has wrapped around the ladder rung, wrapped around the firefighters next when bailing out a window or into a room for VES, and we have seen it catch on corners as they crawl only to break. We recommend a strap carried over the firefighters coat (similar to a radio strap position) where the TIC is positioned down low out of the way. Many firefighters use webbing where we have found great use of an ordinary seatbelt strap with a large carabiner for the attachment point. Insight Instructor Thomas Anderson demonstrates how this is effective from our tripod stance during search:

* Battery Life: They should be fully charged & fully drained to avoid developing a memory. Lithium ion batteries manufacturers state that they cannot develop a memory. This is incorrect. A fire service TIC that is placed on a truck charger improperly by not fully locked into the charger, or the charging contacts are dirty will result in short cycles of charging. A battery is only rated for certain number of cycles (or uses). This can dramatically shorten the battery life. In addition to this, a fire service TIC is required to be IP67 rated which is dust & water intrusion safe (up to a certain duration). However, if the battery port or PC connection cover is not fully covered or water is allowed into either of these areas, it will lead to damage to the TIC. Any TIC left upon a hot surface can also inadvertently drain or discharge the battery.

We hope these short articles are helpful to you and your department.

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God bless,

The Insight Training Team.