The 2019/2020 Australian bushfire season, colloquially known as the Black Summer, started in June 2019 with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service acting director warning of the potential for an early start to the bushfire season, which normally starts in August. The warning was based on the Northern Australia bushfire seasonal outlook noting exceptional dry conditions and a lack of soil moisture, combined with early fires in central Queensland. Throughout the summer, hundreds of fires burnt, mainly in the south-east of the country. The major fires, which peaked during December and January, have since been extinguished.
From September 2019 to March 2020, fires heavily impacted various regions of the state of New South Wales. In eastern and north-eastern Victoria large areas of forest burnt out of control for four weeks before the fires emerged from the forests in late December. Multiple states of emergency were declared across New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.
Reinforcements from all over Australia were called in to assist fighting the fires and to relieve exhausted local crews in New South Wales. The Australian Defence Force was mobilized to provide air support to the firefighting effort and to provide personnel and logistical support. Firefighters, supplies and equipment from Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States, among others, helped fight the fires, especially in New South Wales.
The damage left in the wake of the Australian forest fires has been catastrophic. Roughly 25.5 million acres have been burned, killing 33 people and destroying 3,000 homes. More than 1 billion mammals, birds and reptiles likely lost their lives. When the local volunteer fire departments were discharged to combat the fire, it became apparent they were under-equipped with firefighting technology.
While the country was engulfed in smoke, FLIR Australian Sales Manager Steve Blott immediately began the mission to seed 100 FLIR K1 situational awareness thermal camera donations to volunteer fire departments in need of the technology. ‘When we learned about the lack of thermal technology in the responding volunteer departments, FLIR felt it was our obligation to support the frontline responders with equipment to better complete their mission safely and effectively,’ said Steve. ‘The benefits of FLIR technology allows firefighters to search faster and be more efficient, keeping the community safe and making sure the crews return home.’
FLIR Thermal Imaging Cameras (TICs) are proven lifesavers for fire crews during fire attack and overhaul. Not only can they help firefighters find their way through thick smoke in unfamiliar surroundings, TICs can also help crews determine the centre of fire activity, locate victims and other firefighters, and spot potential hazards not seen by the naked eye. Crucially, because TICs show minute differences in heat energy, they’re vital for search and rescue, HAZMAT operations and many other operational specialties beyond the standard fire ground.
To date, FLIR has donated 90 K1 situational awareness thermal imaging cameras to roughly 80 volunteer departments throughout Australia. ‘Thank you’ to the FLIR Fire Team for continuing to support our purpose to innovate with the World’s Sixth Sense to save lives and livelihoods.
The FLIR K1 is a rugged, compact thermal camera that serves as an extra set of eyes on the fire scene, allowing commanders, officers and inspectors to quickly complete a thorough 360° assessment in total darkness and through smoke. With a bright, integrated flashlight, the FLIR K1 illuminates the scene to help the user steer and manage the crew more effectively. It also displays 160×120 pixel thermal images that help users gain additional situational awareness that is not possible with the naked eye.
The FLIR K1 allows firefighters to:
Enhance situational awareness
Quickly assess the scene in total darkness, through smoke, and never lose line of sight.
Document findings conveniently
Gather compelling evidence and save up to 10,000 sets of radiometric thermal and visual images for simple reporting.
Rugged and easy to use
The water-resistant K1 withstands a 2m drop onto concrete, and is lightweight enough to attach to gear.
For more information, go to www.flir.com.au/fire