Thermal Imaging Cameras Testing and Standards Development

Andrew Lock, Francine Amon

Fire Research Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology

100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8663

Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8663


Firefighters, police, and emergency medical personnel are all first responders who are utilizing thermal imaging cameras in their day-to-day duties protecting the public. The recent development of mass produced uncooled focal plane array thermal imaging cameras has lead to widespread acceptance and use of this technology throughout the US. However, due to the relative newness of the technology, very few of its users understand how to evaluate the performance of these powerful tools, and no standards exist to assure any sort of minimum functionality. This project endeavors to develop practical testing methods for the evaluation of image performance in different thermal environments. Quantitative measurements of each camera’s nonuniformity, spatial resolution, effective temperature range, and thermal sensitivity are being developed. These tests are coupled with an effective gamma function to relate the camera’s video output signal to its user display. Minimum acceptance criteria for image usability will be the basis for pass/fail test criteria in NFPA standard 1801, which will become the first standard in existence for first responder thermal imaging cameras.



Name: Andrew Lock, Division: 866.03, Lab: Building Fire Research, 224/B348, Mailstop: 8443,

Phone: 301-975-8794, Fax: 301-975-4052 , Email:, Sigma Xi Member: No,

Mentor: Anthony Hamins (224/A267, x6598,, Poster category: Engineering