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NFPA 1801: Standard on Thermal Imagers for the Fire Service
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What is NFPA 1801?
NFPA 1801: Document Scope
1.1 Scope. 1.1.1 This standard shall specify the design, performance, testing, and certification requirements for thermal imagers used by fire service personnel during emergency incident operations. 1.1.2 This standard shall specify requirements for new thermal imagers for the fire service. 1.1.3 This standard shall not specify requirements for thermal imagers manufactured prior to the effective date of this standard. 1.1.4 This standard shall not specify requirements for thermal imagers manufactured to any other standards or other requirements. 1.1.5* Any accessories or enhancements built into, attached to, or sold with the thermal imager by the thermal imager manufacturer for later attachment shall be tested with the thermal imager with those accessories and enhancements installed or attached, as specified in, to ensure the performance and functions of the thermal imager. A.1.1.5 Purchasers and manufacturers of thermal imagers should understand that NFPA 1801 addresses minimum requirements for thermal imagers with the TI BASIC operational format. The TI BASIC PLUS operational format permits accessories and enhancements for a thermal imager so long as they meet the applicable requirements and can be easily disabled or removed, reverting the camera back to the certified TI BASIC mode. Thermal imaging technology is advancing quickly. Potentially useful thermal imaging accessories and enhancements should be considered so long as they do not negatively affect the thermal imager’s performance. Thermal imager enhancements and accessories include wireless video transmitters, image and video capture, alternative uses of color in the thermal image, user-set color temperature transition points, and icons on the screen for other functions. Purchasers interested in enhanced thermal imager capabilities (TI BASIC PLUS) should consider the benefits and limitations of the additional capabilities before making a purchase. Fire departments vary greatly in size, response types, and capabilities. For example, fire departments on the west coast are more likely to encounter large wildland fires than New York City, Boston, or Chicago, which are more likely to experience multiple-alarm tenement or row house building fires. Flood-prone regions are less likely to have underground garages, sub-basements, or subway systems. These examples provide different challenges for the utilization of thermal imagers and any accessories. Some thermal imaging enhancements and accessories utilize radio signal technology. Radio signals react differently in variable and different environments and present different challenges to radio signals. Transmission of radio signals is affected by topography, weather conditions, building layout and design, and construction materials, and other obstructions in a given area. In the testing lab environment, wireless thermal imaging accessories such as video transmitters, image-capturing devices, and alarm devices cannot be “tested” in the total environment in which they could be used. Prospective end users can conduct field testing of such devices in the total environment in which they could be used. Antennas or repeaters can be incorporated into radio frequency (RF) systems used in large industrial and commercial facilities. Realistic and rigorous on-site testing of systems and components will help ensure satisfactory coverage and help the user develop reasonable expectations. Physical testing of thermal imagers utilizing any form of RF technology should be conducted in an actual or realistic environment. Current RF laboratory testing methods cannot take into account the commonly found variety of construction and obstructions. Fire service organizations should take into consideration the local factors in their immediate response areas. Based on actual jurisdictional performance testing, fire service organizations can make informed decisions regarding the purchase, use, and development of operational procedures to be used in providing the maximum level of protection for fire and rescue personnel in their jurisdiction. Purchasers should develop operational procedures to ensure that their thermal imager’s enhancements and accessories will function as expected. In consideration of the factors previously noted, the purchaser should develop testing and performance criteria similar to the following: (1) Prior to using or purchasing a product or system, the local fire service organization should select several different typical target hazard test scenarios likely to be encountered in the normal response area for field testing of the product or system. (2) These target hazard test locations should provide rigorous testing scenarios and should include RF dead spots (if applicable), unusual building complexes, aboveground and belowground configurations, and typical local construction materials. (3) A person(s) designated by the fire service organization(s) should participate in site selection and field testing. (4) Testing should be conducted by simulation of actual emergency operations and conditions. (a) The fire service official should designate an area (i.e., a base station) where accessory receiving components of the thermal imager system would be located if the incident were real. (b) Fire service responders should use the devices just as they would during an actual emergency and travel to all areas of the simulated emergency scene test area. (c) The test scenarios for RF testing should be made as difficult and as challenging as possible so problem areas where an RF signal might have difficulty penetrating a building or structure can be isolated and addressed. (d) Testing results should be recorded along with environmental factors such as the type of occupancy (residential, commercial, industrial, etc.), construction features, weather conditions, and location. (5) Enhancement devices (leaky coaxial feeders, repeaters, enhanced radio receivers) can be used as necessary, with placement and effectiveness recorded. (6) Fire service responders who would routinely have multiple receiving components on the scene of an actual emergency should place multiple receiving devices in service during field-testing scenarios in accordance with their standard operating procedures. (7) NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code, outlines the eight basic types of construction that should be considered as part of the field-test criteria. (8) Users should evaluate the effectiveness of the device as it relates to the developed operational procedures. By conducting these recommended field tests, fire service organizations can witness the performance of the product in the environment in which it is intended to be used, determine with reasonable accuracy whether the product meets their expectations, and then make an appropriate decision. 1.1.6 This standard shall not be construed as addressing all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with the use of this standard by testing facilities. It shall be the responsibility of the persons and organizations that use this standard to establish safety and health practices and to determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use of this standard for designing, manufacturing, and testing. 1.1.7 Nothing herein shall restrict any jurisdiction or manufacturer from exceeding these minimum requirements.

This standard contains requirements for new thermal imagers used by fire service personnel during emergency incident operations.

Official document scope
What does NFPA 1801 address?

In addition to criteria for design, product labeling, and certification of thermal imagers, this document also defines performance requirements including temperature range, electromagnetic emission and immunity, and resistance to vibration and heat as well as test methods for image recognition, corrosion, viewing surface abrasion, field of view, impact acceleration resistance, and more.

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