Skip to main content

Developed and maintained by the NFCC

Control measure

Consider using thermal imaging cameras

Control measure knowledge

Ground fires may not be visible to the naked eye as there may not be clear visual indicators such as smoke or flames. Fire and rescue service personnel should consider using thermal imaging cameras to identity the emission of hot gases or hot spots, which may be an indicator that there is a ground fire.

It is worth noting that most police helicopters, including those operated by the National Police Air Service (NPAS), have thermal imaging cameras. Other aircraft such as unmanned aircraft can also be equipped with thermal imaging cameras. Using thermal imaging cameras from the air can be a very effective technique for identifying hotspots, smouldering ground or surface fires and any undetected fire behaviour and firespread (including crown fires and spot fires).

Fire and rescue service personnel should be aware of the limitations of thermal imaging cameras at a wildfire incident - thermal imaging cameras may not detect a very deep-seated fire, for example.

Refer to National Operational Guidance: Fires and firefighting for information about using thermal imaging cameras.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Consider making local arrangements for using police helicopters and unmanned aircraft with thermal imaging cameras for wildfire incidents

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Adopt a systematic approach when using thermal imaging cameras to scan and search an area