Performance Metrics for Fire Fighting Thermal Imaging Cameras Small and Full Scale Experiments

Thermal imaging cameras (TIC) are becoming an important tool for many firefighters and other first responders. However, due to the lack of performance standards for TIC, a wide variety of designs and capabilities are provided to end users with little consistency in reported performance.

In order to understand the performance characteristics of TIC during fire fighting applications, it is critical that a set of performance metrics and standard testing protocols be developed to allow the fire service to evaluate TICs. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been conducting research to characterize and understand TIC performance.

This work began with an assessment of the thermal imaging needs and activities of first responders. Existing standards were collected and reviewed to ensure that the recommended testing conditions in this work are consistent with standards on other first responder equipment that are exposed to similar operating conditions, as well as standards and test protocols on infrared cameras that are used in other applications, when appropriate.

A survey of the literature was also performed to explore existing work in which the fire environment was well characterized and pertinent to TIC testing.