I am a volunteer grant writer for our VFD. I will be requesting a thermal image camera for us. I am interested in knowing your preferences and why. For example: Helmet or Hand held, ease of use, any other features, pro & con that make a particular brand better for you. We are in the middle of heavily timbered county here in TX, so wildland fires are issues as are back woods chrystal meth labs, in addition to all the usual uses for a thermal image camera. Do these two conditions require a different type or brand then another? Should I request more than one type or brand? Thanks in advance!

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I won't go too much into the different brands of TIC's, but I would say go for a hand held unit, so it can be used by others much easier than a helmet mount. It would be a pain in the butt to have to switch it from one person's helmet to the next. Good luck on the grant.
Thanks for the input Ken. I've found a unit that does both, with telescoping sights from 1-20'. It's from SPI Corp. Model SPI-IR/TG-7. It has military housing, high resolution digital thermal imaging. compatible with PVS-7 accessories, video output, germanium optics, auto image adjustment. Has anyone used this-if so what do you think?
This looks like a military NVG, not a fire department thermal imager. If you plan on using it for structure work as well, this is not what you need. Call you local vendors and have them bring out demo units and put them through the paces. definitely go handheld.
We use Bullard cameras here. They are the T3Max model with transmitters. They work well for us and we have found many different uses. The transmitter can be an issue due to the radio signals it uses. We just recently were called to a motorcycle accident. It was night time on a rural road in the woods. They had been chasing this person for some time. He went off the roadway. They requested us to respond for medical purposes. They had still not located the driver. I called dispatch and asked if the deputies would like for us to respond with our thermal camera. They said yes. We got there with the camera quickly. They had spent over 1/2 an hour searching, we got there and turned on the camera...bang there he is! He was hiding in some brush. The deputies had walked past him many times not even noticing him hiding. He was hiding for good reason. They found all kinds of drugs on the bike. The TIC is a great tool with many uses. It also has disadvantges has well. It is still just a tool. Be safe and learn something new today.
Thanks guys for your valuable input! I will discuss having vendors come out here with the fire chief. One issue with has been our remoteness. Maybe getting our mutual aid group chiefs' together will lure someone out. I have been speaking with vendors via phone though. I'm still interested in anyone's input. Thanks again. Jan
i write also for a vfd and don't qrite for a certain model but for a tic. like mentioned before get demos in and compare. not in the station but in a burn building and woods ect with the gear that you would have in that sitituation. some come with a thermometer and some with a numerical dispay for temp makes a difference to what you do with it. fema grant allows about 10,000 for a tic. right now you can get a tic from scott for 9000 with transmitted and recieve in color. that is a great buy but youmay like something else better. compare and compare ssome more and make your distrubtor demo in live conditions. best of luck
Thanks again for all your input. I will take everyone's advice into consideration. I may have questions between various features and I'll let everyone know.

BTW since our department needs everything I'm on the internet researching grants all day, every day and may know of a source if your department needs funding. Just e-mail me at jkenyan@windstream.net and I'll try to help with resources. Thanks again.
Handheld TIC is far easier to use, not assigned to a person and in a volunteer setting just seems easier to deploy. The other big factor is when using a TIC to find an overheated light ballasts, etc. helmet mounted TIC's are difficult to look straight up. Another feature people forget about is you can't put a helmet mounted TIC into a void space with putting your face into the environment's insult. Example: putting a TIC into a ceiling void, etc. I am not endorsing one brand, as I have not used all of them out there... We use Cairns Vipers x(4) which have a pivoting screen so you can look at it from different angles without having to be squared up with the camera lens...

Oh yea for hazmat responses, a helmet mounted camera is useless in a Level A suit...
Go with Bullard T3Max. Lightweight and has some great features.
I have to agre with the hand held it is much more vesital . good luck
Bullard is the brand I would go with they have multiple types out including handheld with temperature gage and color screens instead of the traditional gray.
We are using the Bullard T4's on all our apparatus(rescue and pumpers/aireal). I forgot the brand we just switched from, but its night and day. Compact, easy to handle with gloves on. Nice big buttons. Very very clear display, especially compared to the old ones. Zoom, change how lower temperatures appear and it even shows the temperature of what you're little crosshairs are on if its over a certain temp. I like them, so does local LE, they barrow it a lot.

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