Could Thermal Imaging Cameras Have Saved Man’s Life In Spokane House Fire? Perhaps Not
by Kelsey Watts, KHQ Local News Anchor/Reporter - bio | email
SPOKANE, Wash – The
Spokane Fire Department has been using thermal imaging cameras, known as "TIC's"
for years, not only in house fires but also car crashes and even outdoor
They have 18 of the
cameras now – enough for every first response truck within the department to
carry one; including the truck that arrived at a fire in a converted 6-unit
apartment building on the lower South Hill Thursday, in which a 50-year-old old
man was found dead under a pile of clothes in the closet after crews did a
primary and secondary search of the building.
"I know there were
TIC's on scene, I know they were utilized at some point during the fire, but I
can't verify if the crew that was doing that first primary search had a TIC with
them or not," Deputy Chief David Leavenworth said.
The cameras rely on
differences in temperature in order to produce an image. In a simulation, firefighters showed us that
putting a plastic tarp over a man on the ground significantly impacted the TIC's
ability to find him.
In Thursday's fire,
the deceased man was found under a pile of clothes in the closet – clothes that
would have been the same temperature as the room. Deputy Chief Leavenworth said in that case
using the TIC may not have helped.
"I think in this case,
with the amount of clothing that was discovered on top of him, it would have
been very difficult for the TIC to see his heat signature in that room," he
Leavenworth said this
is a tough loss for the department – particularly for the crews who responded on
Thursday – and the department will be holding meetings and training sessions to
make this a learning moment and improve in the future.
Leavenworth recalled a
situation just a few years back in which the TIC's proved to be
utilized a TIC to rescue a young boy out of a basement in Hillyard who was on
fire, he was trapped, it was filled with smoke, and our crews found him within
explaining that the boy was rescued and survived.
However, as we all
learned last week, every fire is different, and sometimes the circumstances are
out of the hands of the firefighters who arrive.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:26 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:26:35 GMT
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