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First Responder Thermal Imaging Cameras: Establishment of Representative Performance Testing Conditions



Francine K. Amon, Anthony P. Hamins, Justin Rowe


Currently there are no standardized performance metrics or test methods available to the users and manufacturers of these instruments. The Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is conducting research on testing conditions that best represent the environment in which these cameras are used. First responders may use thermal imagers for field operations ranging from fire attack and search/rescue in burning structures, to hot spot detection in overhaul activities, to detecting the presence of hazardous materials. In order to develop standardized performance metrics and test methods that capture the harsh environment in which these cameras may be used, information has been collected from the literature and full-scale tests have been conducted at BFRL. Initial work has focused on temperature extremes and the presence of obscuring media such as smoke. In the full-scale tests, a wood framed structure was constructed having a fire room opening onto a corridor or an adjacent room. Thermal imagers viewed a target through smoke, dust, and steam, with and without flames in the field of view. The fuels were hydrocarbons (methanol, heptane, propylene, toluene), wood, upholstered cushions, and carpet with padding. Gas temperatures, CO, CO2, and O2 concentrations, emission spectra, and smoke concentrations were collected. Bar targets and a heated mannequin dressed in firefighter gear were used as targets. The imagers were placed at three distances from the targets.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings| |The International Society for Optical Engineering| 2006
Conference Dates
April 17-21, 2006
Conference Title
SPIE Defense and Security Symposium


evaluation, first responder, infrared camera, test conditions, test methods


Amon, F. , Hamins, A. and Rowe, J. (2006), First Responder Thermal Imaging Cameras: Establishment of Representative Performance Testing Conditions, Proceedings| |The International Society for Optical Engineering| 2006 (Accessed June 18, 2024)


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Created May 1, 2006, Updated February 19, 2017