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The Impact of Thermal Imaging Camera Display Quality on Fire Fighter Task Performance



Justin Rowe


Thermal imaging cameras (TIC) have become a vital fire fighting tool for the first responder community but there are currently no standardized quality control regulations. The purpose of the study was to understand the impact of TIC display image quality on a fire fighter•s ability to perform a hazard recognition task. Test subjects were asked to identify a fire hazard by observing infrared images. The image matrix considered the interactions of several image characteristics including contrast, brightness, spatial resolution, and noise. The results were used to create a del function to predict the effect of image quality on user performance. This model was recommended to be incorporated in image quality test methods in development at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. These recommendations will also be provided to the National Fire Protection Association for use in an upcoming standard on fire fighting TIC.
Grant/Contract Reports (NISTGCR) -


thermal imager, display quality, fire fighter, camera evaluation, statistical analysis, image quality, spatial resolution, nonuniformity, contrast, luminance


Rowe, J. (2009), The Impact of Thermal Imaging Camera Display Quality on Fire Fighter Task Performance, Grant/Contract Reports (NISTGCR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed July 23, 2024)


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Created June 11, 2009, Updated February 19, 2017