The best way to do TIC drills is to use a smoke machine and artificial smoke. The water-based smoke fluids that are out now can be safely used even in a fire station.
We use smoke machines for TIC and PPV training on a routine basis.
You can get a smoke machine rated for fire training use for around $600-700 and a good-quality smoke juice for around $150 for a case of 6 gallons.
The drills start with filling up the drill space (drill tower, fire station, borrowed abandoned building that has passed a pre-drill inspection) with the artificial smoke.
Assign the firefighters into teams, with each team having a TIC. They shouuld be in full turnout gear and SCBA - on air.
You can use a gas stove with three or four burners on "low" to create a heat source to simulate searching for the seat of the fire. You can also use a space heater or other safe heat source. Have the team enter and find the fire source.
For victim searches, you can use a rescue manikin and have the team do a search-and-rescue assignment. The search should include a search rope if the structure is large or has a lot of open space. If you want the rescue manikin to show up better on the TIC, you can warm it by leaving it in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes prior to the drill, or you can use a couple of towels heated in the dryer and then drape them over the manikin immediately prior to the team's entry.
Other TIC drills include hazmat drills and outdoor SAR drills.
For hazmat, visit a local propane tank farm or chemical company. Use the TICs to see liquid levels in compressed gas or liquid cylinders, to distinguish liquid pipes from vapor pipes, and to determine the direction of liquid movement in piping.
For outdoor SAR drills, you can have a firefighter hide in woods, brush, or tall grass in darkness and have the TIC team search until they locate the victim.
You can also take a teapot of hot water and walk a paved surface while dripping the hot water out of the teapot. Have the TIC team wait a few minutes, then follow the drips. This does a good job of simulating following a blood trail from a victim who has wandered off from a wreck at night.
For RIT training, use a search rope in tandem with the TIC. The TIC gets the RIT in, the search rope, anchored to the exterior gets you out.
There are other TIC drills, limited only by the imagination. Just make sure that they are conducted safely and don't do any training that the instructors haven't walked through first.
The question I have is if your dept has conducted some basic TIC training first? Also how many TICs do you have and how are they utilized on a fire scene?
Some basic TIC drills is learning the best way to scan a room, there should be a systematic way to scan, like a "Z" pattern etc. Ensure all crew members know how to scan, go in so far in the room, scan, continue, scan, etc. Also it is important to do a traditional search pattern as well, because there have been times crews depended upon the TIC to go into a structure, but still got disorientated because they didn't keep in contact with the wall, etc.
Other good aspects of using a TIC are having different temperature items. Hot and cold items should appear differently, the using of heat pads etc can be strategically placed in a room to let crews identify there is "something" different. Cold items can also be placed to help in identifying other things found on the camera. An electric blanket on the floor can be a good way to simulate a hot spot indicating fire below you, etc.
Other things that should be identified is how images appear to crews when looking at a mirror. The image can appear to be a FF, but it is your reflection. TICs also will not look through glass, so it helps to have some areas while training to check that. Same thing with water, a TIC will not indicate a heat source through water.
There is a lot that can and should be done with a TIC as either incorporated or even seperate training. It is good for all members to know how to scan, know a systematic way to scan, identify what they are seeing and so forth. If you haven't done training like that or can answer for sure if everyone knows how to use a TIC, perhaps do such training before incorporating RIT.
The use of a TIC in a RIT situation is a great tool. I am with John though, in that site specific useage a good solid TIC training program is needed for regular daily use, to include TIC Intrepretation before one should add it into a very fast paced, dynamic, RIT cache.
I see firefighters all the time, that rely on the TIC as if it were their own eyes, now add in that they are going into locate a fellow brother and most stop doing the basics of situational awareness and rush with the "vision" asset. Take the camera away and they are now a mayday as well.
I will give you a few considerations that you may or may not have thought about with the camera. Do you use it size up every individual room as you proceed? How about a 6 sided approach to sizing up the room? Depth preception drills? Thermal Insult Recognition - Image Intrepretation with real fire and real heat, not reading hot and cold off the kitchen stove? Do you use the camera as a lead search with a firefighter using it, or should the officer lead the search team with a camera assisted search with the firefighters still blind? The addition of a TIC with a RIT operation can bog down the firefighters if used improperly. Training with someone who can demostrate safe, efficient, and coordinated effort will afford a better outcome for routine and emergency operations.
Basic TIC training consists of finding hot or cold objects in a room. This basic information usually states that hot items are white or grey (red or yellow in newer TICs)and black (blue) for cold objects. However other things should also be taught. Like a firefighter walks into a room that is cooler then his body temperature then the image will appear white. Take that same firefighter walking into a hot room and the image will appear black or dark grey. The image relates to the surrounding area. Some of the drills we used for TIC training may seem very basic but it gives a chance to read the image. Turn a table on its side and have someone lay down behind it. Use the TIC from the door of the darkened room and one should see a slight glow under the table. Have someone place their hand in water while another person uses the TIC to see the hand disappear. Put water into a container and float a little vegetable oil on top. Oil should be different temperature than water.
Hose mazes with downed firefighters are great drills and people get involved. Assemble your men and divide into crews. Have one as RIT and have them stage equipment. Send them and have them get trapped. Then send the RIT team in with a TIC and train with that.
That would be called thermal version / inversion image intrepretation. Others may call it masking as the fire can mask the heat signature of the cooler or hotter image. The military has seen this in the desert warfare with day verse night termperatures.
Very good points to consider as basic TIC training David.
Be careful when using smoke machines to help create low or zero visibility conditions. We used a machine in our burn building and didn't pay much attention to the smoke. Even though clean up was done to the smoke machine, using the wrong type smoke caused the smoke maching to quit working (cost of about $800.00 and about $150 of smoke that cannot be used). Look at the specs of the maching you have and match it up as closely as possible. There is a big difference is water based versus cellulose based (I think that is the term that was used). Also, if you want to throw in some challenges, use a mirror, glass or a metal with a smooth surface to create illusions to show how easy it is to "mistake" images that they may see.