Thermal Imaging Training

Training Videos

Image interpretation is one of the most critical skills a firefighter needs to develop to successfully use a Thermal Imaging Camera (TIC). Firefighters need to be able to glance at the TIC display and understand the image being shown. This is a learned skill that comes with understanding the technology of thermal imaging coupled with practical experience in the field.

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Thermal Imaging Training Videos

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Frequently Asked Questions

When it is to replace the batteries of my thermal imaging camera? And how to evaluate it?

Here’s a way to evaluate your batteries.

When conducting your next truck check, take out your thermal imager cameras and turn them on and place them on your seat. Now, finish your equipment checks, which should take 30 to 45 minutes and go back to your thermal imager camera. Is it still on or is it off or perhaps it went into sleep mode as it wasn’t being used? If it is off, did you time your batteries? Did it run for only 15 to 20 minutes before shutting down? If that is the case, then you need to replace your batteries right away. If the thermal imager camera manufacture states that the thermal imaging should give you a two-hour run time and you are not getting it, then change your batteries.

Can thermal imaging camera estimate the room temperature?

No. The relative heat indicator measures a relative surface temperature (only) based upon either the “square box or crosshairs” found in the center of the display screen.

The imager cannot read air or gas temperature as they are not solid surfaces and the imager “sees” right through that environment. Where ever the imager is pointed at ie: floor, walls or ceiling will be the surface temperature that the imager will read.


How does thermal imaging work? Is it the same as night vision?

No. Night vision and thermal imaging are two completely different technologies. Night vision works by amplification of ambient visible light, so therefore requires some amount of visible light to function properly. Likewise, night vision equipment can be “blinded” by an exposure of too much light. Conversely, thermal imaging requires no light because the sensor (called the detector or focal plane array) is designed to detect long-wave infrared (LWIR) heat energy which resides below the frequency range of visible light in the electromagnetic spectrum. Thus thermal imaging does not depend on light to operate. In fact, because the sensor does not detect visible light, it therefore does not matter how much or how little light is available. But because everything and everyone emits surface heat, sensors which can discern these subtle differences can process them in order to make an image, where temperature differences are converted into a differences in black-and-white shading. Additional processing algorithms allow some thermal imagers to measure the temperature of a surface and to colorize certain areas of interest, such as extremely high-temperature areas.

Is grant funding available for thermal imaging purchases?

Yes. Your Bullard sales representative can help you learn about available grants and tips to get you started. There are a variety of grants available that include categories specific to law enforcement and fire departments, as well as line items that qualify thermal imaging for funding.

What is the difference between a thermal imager which is “NFPA-certified” and one which is not?

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) establishes codes and standards, one of which is NFPA 1801. This particular standard establishes baselines for thermal imagers in terms of image quality, durability, and standardization of operation. Some grant funding sources and/or local policies may mandate the purchase of an NFPA-certified thermal imager.

Is thermal imaging evidence accepted by courts?

Yes. There are many applications that have withstood the test of case law and have therefore been accepted as sound, defensible uses of thermal imaging in law enforcement. The Law Enforcement Thermographer’s Association (LETA) can provide more information.

Didn’t courts rule that thermal imaging could not be used in surveillance of residences?

No. In 1992, officers conducted surveillance on the house of a suspected marijuana grower (Danny Kyllo) and based upon the abnormal heat signatures coming from the house, entered and located a growing operation, after which they arrested Kyllo. Subsequent challenges and appeals all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States resulted in that court’s ruling that the arrest had resulted in a violation of Mr Kyllo’s Fourth Amendment rights. As a result, thermal imaging can still be used for this type of surveillance, but probable cause must be established and search warrant(s) issued before surveillance. This ruling applies only to surveillance of primary residences.

Where can I find training resources?

Bullard has a team of fully qualified and certified professional trainers on staff in both law enforcement and the fire service who can assist you with your training needs in terms of operation and qualification. Third party agencies can also provide training and certification. For firefighters, Safe-IR ( has a well-respected training regimen. For law enforcement officers, the Law Enforcement Thermographer’s Association (LETA, have a well-established and court-recognized training program which certifies students as thermographers.