Unified Firefighters Buy Dozens Of Thermal Imaging Cameras

Dec 14, 2018, 5:07 PM | Updated: Dec 16, 2018, 2:00 pm

MAGNA, Utah – New equipment could be a game-changer for Unified Firefighters. The UFA just bought dozens of thermal imaging cameras that will change the way they search burning buildings, find the origins of fires and save lives. They are even starting to discover more uses for the cameras as they train to use them.

“It’s going to speed up our searches for victims, searches for fires, and searches for hidden fires,” said Captain Sam Christensen, with the Unified Fire Authority. “All of those things, we’re going to be able to see now that we have this technology.”

When firefighters enter a burning house or building, typically they see nothing, it’s pitch black. It’s not like Hollywood, where the inside of the burning building is lit up so you can see the action.

Christensen took KSL TV into a Unified Fire training facility with a fake fire going on to show how the new cameras work. We went through several rooms hunting for hand-warmers, the kind of hot pads you can take on skiing trips.  The hot little pads lit up on the digital camera screens, making them easy to find.

“You can’t see the top of the stairs with your naked eye,” said Cpt. Christensen, as we walked through the training facility.

That’s why, for years, firefighters got down on their hands and knees to search pitch black rooms for victims.

“We’ve been feeling our way through dark hallways and smoky environment with no vision aside from our flashlights.”

Through the camera, we can see the steps and find our way as we keep searching for heat sources, like bodies.

“This is as clear as any image gets,” said Christensen. “It’s a digital readout of what you’re seeing.”

With the cameras, firefighters can see furniture, and find their way through a dark room. Without them, what do they see?

“Nothing, absolutely nothing,” said Christensen.

The thermal imaging cameras translate infrared energy into an image firefighters can see on the digital screen, high quality images in total blackout conditions.

“It’s an absolute game-changer,” he said.

They can also eliminate the hazard, by finding the fire quickly.

“We can make entry in the front door, scan the ceiling and see the direction of the heat currents and go the opposite direction to find the fire. So, it’s huge.”

Other uses are emerging, too.  When they arrive at a car crash, and are uncertain about the number of passengers, they can find out if someone has been ejected.

“We can scan and the surrounding area, and they’ll show up like a bright light,” said Christensen. “The potential is endless.”

The Unified Fire Department just bought 72 of the cameras, for nearly $500,000. They now have enough of the cameras to put two on each fire apparatus.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

A Utah Highway Patrol car that was hit by a speeding car. (Credit: UHP)...
Lauren Steinbrecher

UHP dash cam shows distracted driver plowing into patrol car, hurting trooper

New dash camera video shows the scary moments a distracted driver slammed into a Utah Highway Patrol car on I-215 Tuesday, injuring the trooper and others. 
1 day ago
FILE PHOTO (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)...
Debbie Worthen

SLC replaces fireworks with laser light displays for July holidays

Salt Lake City residents will get a laser show instead of fireworks for the Independence and Pioneer day weekends.
1 day ago
File photo of a Unified Police Department squad vehicle. (KSL TV)...
Eliza Pace

Kearns shelter in place lifted, suspect in custody

A shelter in place has been lifted after it was issued around 7 p.m. while police searched for an armed teen.
1 day ago
Follow @KSL_AlexCabrero...
Alex Cabrero

Memento of slain son stolen from car, heartbroken mom wants it back

The stuffed elephant, that she slept with every night, is the only toy of her son's she has left.
1 day ago
The McFarland family farm in Weber County is dealing with rising costs for fuel, chemicals and mate...
Mike Anderson, KSL TV

Weber County family farm fights through herbicide shortages, drought, rising costs

A shortage of chemicals found in herbicides is putting even more rising costs on the backs of Utah farmers, in an already difficult year.
1 day ago
LGBTQ teens at an Encircle activity....
Ashley Moser, KSL TV

Parents’ support key to mental health among LGBTQ+ youth, experts say

Nearly 20 percent of adults in the U.S. live with a mental health condition. In the LGBTQ+ community, that number is three times higher. Experts say family support is crucial to an adolescents’ mental health.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Unified Firefighters Buy Dozens Of Thermal Imaging Cameras