In-mask thermal imaging helps firefighters find victims trapped in burning buildings

Thermal imaging has been a crucial life-saving tool for rescue service workers for decades, but until recently, the technology hasn’t been particularly easy to use. That’s why a company called Scott Safety decided to put a thermal intelligence system directly in the sightlines of their brand new firefighter mask. The in-mask thermal images provide real-time data so that firefighters can find potential victims through the smoke and heat of a roaring blaze.

Scott Sight uses a lightweight, 8.5 ounce camera with a display integrated directly into the firefighter mask. Thermal images are fed at nine frames per second into the mask itself, but as part of a peripheral display so as not to obscure the firefighters’ view. Increasing visibility in dark or smoky conditions is a huge benefit for firefighters, since conditions can be so hostile and unpredictable. Scott Sight also moves thermal imaging from handheld devices directly into the mask, so firefighters can keep their hands free to execute life-saving rescues.

The ability to locate rescue targets more efficiently and save civilians faster just increases safety for all the humans involved, regardless of whether they’re doing the saving or being saved. Individualized, all-environment visibility will help teams of firefighters cover more ground more quickly in dangerous fire situations, all while locating potential victims and moving out of harm’s way without having to stop to check external equipment readings.

For the Scott Safety team, creating a display that enhanced firefighters’ abilities without obstructing their field of view (or interfering with other equipment) was paramount. “One of the key challenges we faced was to create an adjustable, sleek design that wouldn’t interfere with the firefighter’s personal protection equipment, field of view or scene hazards,” said Kim Henry, Scott Safety director of growth initiatives. Future adaptations of the Scott Sight firefighter mask are already in the works at Scott Safety, and it’s safe to assume they’ll continue to beef up the mask’s high-tech imaging abilities.

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