Using infrared cameras on helicopters, airplanes and satellites,
fire fighters can take photographs and discover where the heat is most
intense (the hot spots), allowing them to focus on the most dangerous
FireMapper, a US Department of Agriculture/ Forest Services
system, uses thermal infrared images to detect the hot flames, which are
often obscured by thick smoke.
NASA research aircraft carrying infrared
sensors have also aided in fighting major fires.
NASA engineers have developed a hand-held infrared camera that not only
can see through dense smoke but can also detect the
invisible flames of
alcohol and hydrogen fires. In structural fires, infrared cameras are
used to detect hot spots in walls and roofs, and even to assess the
likelihood of fires behind doors. Firemen also use the cameras for poor
visibility navigation and to locate people and animals that may be
trapped by heavy smoke. Thermal infrared imaging is also an important
fire prevention tool, allowing for the detection and repair of
overloaded electrical circuits before they cause a fire.