Fighting Fire with Thermal Cameras

Fighting Fire with Thermal Cameras

Thermal cameras have provided indispensable aid to firefighters in recent decades. LWIR thermal cameras do not record visible radiation, but they do ‘see’ long-wave infrared radiation that penetrates through smoke. With an LWIR thermal camera, firefighters can identify the center of a fire, as well as people lost in smoke or fog. Moreover, a thermal camera paired with a light and easy-to-control drone can be a very useful tool for rescuing missing people.

Drone-Mounted Thermal Cameras in Rescue Operations

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The combination of drone and thermal camera gives rescuers and firefighters several major advantages. As mentioned above, it allows them to see through smoke, and it also facilitates nighttime operations. Furthermore, the combination allows operators to observe and investigate extensive areas from a safe distance. In the case of a large fire, a thermal camera mounted on a drone can be used to search for people and animals, even at night and under foggy conditions.

Drones can be deployed very quickly in case of emergency. After all, an entire drone, with thermal camera and accessories included, can be transported in a large passenger car without requiring any modification to the interior. That same drone will be operational within a few minutes of arrival at the scene of the emergency.

Why Choose the Workswell WIRIS System

Workswell’s WIRIS thermal camera is the most advanced thermal imaging system for use with drones, and it offers a range of functions that are critical to the success of rescue operations. These functions can save lives. One of the key features of the Workswell WIRIS thermal camera that is absolutely essential for search-and-rescue applications is thermal camera calibration. Thermal camera calibration ensures exceptionally high thermal homogeneity in the thermogram. This is what gives the operator confidence that the camera has not passed over a missing person. In fact, dense smoke decreases ambient infrared radiation temperature differences in the image. This makes detecting people much more reliable because lower temperature differences make it easier to distinguish people from their surroundings.
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The manual temperature range function is also crucial. It ensures the correct and continuous setting of temperature sensitivity. Rescuers and firefighters know they need this function to succeed in what they do best. If the temperature range is set automatically, both the upper and lower temperature limits are defined by the highest (and lowest) temperature that the thermal imaging unit detects. If the center of a fire is near to the camera, it will readjust its settings to accommodate a new maximum. Yet when this happens, objects with a lower temperature, such as the person being searched for, will be incredibly difficult to detect. This increases the probability that the missing person will be overlooked.

GPS integration is another important tool, especially when rescue operations span a large area. Video recording facilitates the production of documentation encompassing the entire event. The built-in camera also allows traditional images to be seen without the need to switch images.

What’s more, Workswell’s WIRIS IR camera can be fully configured during flight. Settings including the thermal pallet, the temperature range, and the temperature alarm can all be adjusted without landing. This significantly speeds up rescue operations.


Because living creatures can be identified by temperature differences, thermal cameras mounted on drones can be very effective in the search for missing people, as well as during other rescue operations at night or in foggy conditions.

A drone with a thermal camera allows operators to inspect regions where lost or injured persons may be from a safe distance. Moreover, the WIRIS LWIR thermal camera also facilitates the location of people located in smoky areas near major fires.