Product Details Supplier Info More products
Download document:

FLIR K-series brochure - .PDF file.

Firefighters in Kalmthout, a village north of Antwerp in Belgium, are using a FLIR K50 thermal-imaging camera in its work protecting Kalmthout Heath, an 8,000-hectare site that is home to many species of flora and fauna and becomes particularly susceptive to fires in the hot and dry summer. The technology is also used to protect against ‘roll-over’, to locate missing children and to help tackle chimney fires.

The firefighters started using thermal-imaging technology about 10 years ago, when it invested in a FireFLIR. It then added a FLIR K50, which is more practical to carry — it is mounted on its charger in the truck that always arrives first at the scene. Firefighters can then clip it onto their kit so it is instantly available when they need it.

FLIR thermal imaging proved invaluable when a fire broke out on the Kalmthout Heath. The fire spread rapidly and around 600 hectares of the habitat were destroyed. Extinguishing the fire was a massive operation involving many forces and thermal imaging was particularly effective at detecting ‘ground fire’. This occurs when the wildfire is extinguished but smouldering continues, fuelled by subterranean roots and other organic matter.

Commanding officer Lieutenant Ronny van Riel said: ‘Although not visible to the human eye, the fire rages underground and it can lead to an outbreak of fire several metres away from the last outburst. Thermal imaging showed us clearly the areas on the heath where the ground fire was active. And by further extinguishing and cooling down these areas, we prevented spontaneous self-combustion. In this instance, we used handheld thermal imaging and also helicopters equipped with gimbal-mounted infrared cameras to detect the hotspots.’

Click on the link above to download the FLIR K-series brochure.

Further application details

  • FLIR thermal imaging has more recently been used to look for a child that had got lost on the heath. Although on this occasion the child was found before nightfall, the team knew it had the necessary equipment to pick up any heat signature in the undergrowth during the daylight or in complete darkness.
  • The FLIR K50 is a radiometric device that can also measure temperature — this ability helps protect Kalmthout firefighters against the dangerous fire condition known as ‘roll-over’. This is a mass of superheated gases that gathers at ceiling height or upper levels of the fire scene. It is not the materials in the room that are burning but the flammable gases they give off, and when these concentrated gases reach ignition point, the temperature in the room rises rapidly.
  • Van Riel said: ‘If we go inside a building and expect to be confronted with a roll-over, we now closely monitor the ceiling temperature with the FLIR camera while we try to cool down the smoke. If the temperature exceeds a certain value, we leave to avoid endangering the lives of our firefighters. The camera is also used to help direct water from the fire hoses.’
  • When the firefighters are called to a chimney fire, they use FLIR thermal imaging to determine the hottest spot in the chimney.Van Riel said the hotspot is clearly visible on the thermal image.
  • Finally, the firefighters use the technology to monitor their progress in extinguishing fires.

FLIR Systems specialises in technologies that enhance perception and awareness.  The company brings innovative sensing solutions into daily life through its thermal imaging and visible light imaging technology and systems for measurement, diagnosis, location and advanced threat detection.  Its products improve the way people interact with the world around them, enhance productivity, increase energy efficiency and make the workplace safer.

FLIR Systems has six operating segments – surveillance, instruments, OEM and emerging markets, maritime, security and finally, detection. Of these six, ‘instruments’ is of greatest interest to trade and industry and the second largest segment in the company’s portfolio. This division provides devices that image, measure and assess thermal energy, gases and other environmental elements for industrial, commercial and scientific applications.

These products are manufactured across five production sites, three in the USA and two in Europe; Sweden and Estonia.

A model to suit every application and budget
The options that FLIR Systems provides for measuring temperature and studying thermal performance have never been greater.  Not only does the company offer a huge range of models to suit all thermal application needs but the technology is also affordable and very easy to use.  Thermal cameras now come in various shapes, sizes and degrees of sophistication and FLIR continues to invest heavily in the development of new and complementary technologies to differentiate itself from competitors.

An important milestone in the development of thermal imaging has been the introduction of the FLIR Lepton® core, a micro longwave detector, the size of a mobile SIM.  This has allowed thermal imaging to be repackaged to meet the needs of an even wider audience and, in combination with another new technology called Infrared Guided Measurement – IGM™ – has led to the development of a range of test and measurement meters with imaging capability.

Another important growth area for FLIR thermal imaging is in continuous monitoring to assure quality and safety.  Through its introduction of discrete fixed mounted thermal cameras which are fully compliant industry standard plug-and-play protocols, FLIR Systems has provided industry with infrared machine vision which is instantly ready for quick and easy network installation.

Protecting assets and people from fire is an area for which thermal imaging is least known but, thanks to FLIR Systems’ development, it is now one of the most cost-effective methods available.  Its application flexibility and rapid return on investment present an attractive proposition for any site or safety manager.

View full profile