Firefighting is an extremely dangerous and demanding profession, both physically and mentally. However, help is at hand: Teledyne FLIR designed its K-series of professional yet affordable thermal imaging cameras to take the strain, assisting firefighters in navigating through smoky conditions while searching for hot spots and measuring temperature from a distance. The team at Solna Fire Station in Stockholm, Sweden, is a case in point, where the use of a FLIR K-series camera recently helped one of the team’s smoke divers save four lives in a city centre fire.
Storstockholms brandförsvar (Greater Stockholm’s fire service), covers 10 municipalities in the city, including Solna, located just north of the centre. When a recent large fire began downtown, Solna’s fire crew responded to the call.
“We sent in two smoke divers, both with FLIR K-series cameras,” explains Tomas Bellander, a firefighter and instructor at Solna Fire Station with 22 years of experience. “One smoke diver spotted an elevator with its doors slightly open. His instinct drew him towards the elevator and, upon approach, his FLIR thermal camera showed what looked like an arm in the doorway. It turned out there were four people in that elevator, all of whom were saved by our smoke diver and his FLIR camera.”
Like any fire station, Solna has a range of conventional firefighting tools at its disposal, but relies on FLIR thermal imaging cameras to locate fires and pinpoint anyone trapped or in need of assistance. However, while the main application for FLIR cameras at Solna Fire Station is smoke diving, the crew also uses its cameras as part of other rescue activities, such as locating people on train tracks or next to water.
“It’s a lot easier than using our own eyes and a flashlight,” says firefighter Simon Zettergren. “We can quickly see if there are any temperature shifts to detect human presence.”
Zettergren says Solna Fire Station takes advantage of FLIR K55 high-performance thermal cameras, retaining two in each vehicle. Charging takes place inside the truck.
“We typically deploy teams of two smoke divers: one with a hose and the other with a FLIR K55,” he explains.
FLIR K55 cameras allow Solna Fire Station to attack fires with better strategy, manoeuvre through smoke more easily and save lives. They display crisp thermal images on a bright LCD, helping Solna’s fire crew to navigate better and expedite critical decisions.
“A lot of thoughts go through your head when there’s a real fire,” says Bellander. “You have to execute your strategy while simultaneously receiving commands from the lieutenant and making real-time judgements about situational awareness with limited visibility. The stress factor is high, so you must call upon your equipment and training. If you can do that, the outcome will likely be positive.”
See how Fire Station Solna uses their FLIR cameras in action in the video below: