This is video footage from a live fire training event in an acquired structure. I am cleaning the camera lenses between each drill as the soot, moisture and other liquids and solids attach to the lens and degrade the image quality.

Neither the normal camera or the thermal imager camera (TIC) are x-ray machines that can “see” through liquids and particles.

Two important lessons for firefighters

1. You need to stay low, and you need to keep the TIC low.

Most often, the lower you hold the camera the better image you will get.

Lower in the compartment there are less particles and liquids blocking the view. And less of those particles and liquids will attach to the lens and further degrade the image.

2. Whenever you feel the need to wipe the lens on your SCBA mask, you should also consider cleaning/wiping the lens on the TIC to maintain optimal image quality.

I keep a normal alcohol wet wipe in a pocket or in my glove sleeve to wipe the lens. It is clean and will not scratch the lens on the camera.

If you wipe the camera lens with your glove it might just make it more dirty and/or scratch the lens permanently.

The lens on the thermal imager camera is made from germanium. It is a special glass and from what I understand it is very expensive to replace.

Learn more about it here at FLIR:s website.

Steam rises

Another important reason why you need to stay low is that steam rises. Steam condenses back into droplets in the air in front of the TIC, and on the lens of the TIC, and blocks the view.

Read more about how wet air is lighter than dry air in this blog post.

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