Seeing through the smoke

Fire Department trains with new infrared camera

Training with a new infrared camera ended with the burning of a dollhouse designed to represent a residential home. Instructor Eric Makowski-Budrow leads the demonstrations. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal

Training with a new infrared camera ended with the burning of a dollhouse designed to represent a residential home. Instructor Eric Makowski-Budrow leads the demonstrations. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal

A fire fighter points the new camera at the mock blaze. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal

A fire fighter points the new camera at the mock blaze. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal

Eric Makowski-Budrow periodically closed off openings to the doll house to demonstrate how pressure changes affect a fire. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal

Eric Makowski-Budrow periodically closed off openings to the doll house to demonstrate how pressure changes affect a fire. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal

Fire fighters took the chance to pass the camera around and play with the internal settings of the device, which show off the heat source and temperature. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal

Fire fighters took the chance to pass the camera around and play with the internal settings of the device, which show off the heat source and temperature. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal

Traversing a smoke laden home is no easy task.

When firefighters enter a building they have to navigate through a maze of structural debris while a constant stream of smoke renders them blind. This could be taking place while a fire still blazes. Heat, smoke, and the pressure of saving human lives make this a tense job. That's why firefighters need the latest and greatest technology to help them fight the inferno. The Wadena Fire Department recently upgraded to a new model of infrared camera. A device that gives them eyes in a plume of black smoke.

According to Fire Chief Dean Uselman, combating fires simply isn't the same as its depicted in movies. A rugged team of heros don't just kick the door down, grab the kid, maybe a cat or two then jump from a second floor window while a small army of fire fighters blast the outside of the house with a fire house. Extinguishing a fire is a tactical battle against elements. Firefighters take a precise approach to extinguishing fires and rescuing anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves within a structure fire. One tool makes this job much easier, the thermal imaging camera.

20 years ago the department took the leap and purchased a thermal imaging camera when the technology was brand new. The concept behind the camera is simple. The specialized imaging device can be used to accurately distinguish heat signatures. Bringing such a device into a burning building allows firefighters to move more quickly. Prior to using such cameras firefighters had to move throughout homes and buildings by touch. With the camera they can see virtually everything. This is especially useful for identifying victims of the fire. 

For full article, go to: Wadena PJ

Source, image(s), credits & more: Wadena PJ | Michael Denny