Local firefighters are first in nation to use hands-free thermal imaging technology

by Linda Hubbard on June 5, 2021

Firefighters in the Menlo Park Fire Protection District will be the first in the Nation to use new revolutionary hands-free thermal imaging technology that allows them to enter burning buildings and more effectively and quickly save lives!

According to Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman, entering a burning building is one of the most dangerous things that firefighters will do in the course of their duties. In recent years, most fire agencies have purchased at least one hand held thermal imaging camera per response unit to help firefighters navigate inside a burning structure.

“But the cost, functionality and visual limitations of these units seem almost obsolete next to the Qwake C-Thru Navigator,” said the Chief.

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District recently entered into an agreement with San Francisco based Qwake Systems, to forever improve not only a hands-free thermal imaging solution, using a helmet mounted unit called the C-Thru Navigator, but to also specifically benefit from this revolutionary technology platform that can now outline images firefighters see in green, show them how they entered a burning building, communicate with other firefighters wearing a similar device and live stream what’s going on inside, to an incident commander and other firefighters, outside of the structure.

“The Fire District has been using hand held thermal imaging devices for many years now to see while in fire or heavy smoke conditions,” said the Chief. “While effective, the handheld units are cumbersome at times to use under dynamic fire and emergency conditions and do not provide an enhanced situational or spacial awareness nor the potential to expand and grow the existing technology into other areas like firefighter tracking, biometrics and live feed, critical visual observation and situational awareness for the command post, or elsewhere”.

In March of 2018 the Fire Board approved that the Fire Chief be authorized to enter into a mutually beneficial two-year product development memorandum of understanding. The Board recently expanded that authorization to allow the Chief to enter into an agreement that would provide each on-duty Menlo Park firefighter with a Navigator Helmet Mounted C-Thru device, for a cost not to exceed $210,000.

Top photo: Firefighters test the new Qwake C-Thru Navigator Helmet Mounted Device – Credit Menlo Fire

Second photo: Qwake CEO Sam Cossman and Fire Chief Schapelhouman sign a contract to provide up to 42 Navigator helmet mounted thermal imaging technology platforms, enough to outfit every on duty Menlo Park firefighter – Credit Menlo Drone Program


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