The use of thermal imaging cameras (TIC) by the fire service is increasing as firefighters become more aware of the value of these tools. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is currently developing a consensus standard for design and performance requirements of TIC as used by the fire service. This standard will include performance requirements for TIC design robustness (or durability) and image quality. The National Institute of Standards and Technology facilitates this process by providing science-based performance metrics and test methods to the NFPA technical committee charged with the development of this standard. A suite of imaging performance metrics and test methods, based on the harsh operating environment and limitations of use particular to the fire service, has been proposed for inclusion in the standard. The performance metrics, with their accompanying test methods, include: large area contrast, effective temperature range, spatial resolution, nonuniformity, and thermal sensitivity. Two additional procedures, gamma output comparison and image recognition, have also been developed to facilitate the test methods for imaging performance and for TIC robustness. The pass/fail criteria for each of these imaging performance metrics are derived from perception tests in which image contrast, brightness, noise, and spatial resolution are degraded to the point that users can no longer consistently perform tasks involving TIC due to poor image quality.
SPIE Defense and Security Symposium
fire service, performance metric, test method, thermal imaging camera, TIC