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Humberside Fire and Rescue Service is one of the first fire and rescue services in the UK to introduce new thermal imaging smartphones to all fire engines as well as its Tactical Response Vehicles (TRV).

The Caterpillar S61 Thermal Image smartphone can be used as a standard smartphone. The phone is waterproof and has thermal image capabilities built in, allowing firefighters to detect heat sources from outside of buildings. The phones also replace existing and outdated communications tools used across Humberside Fire and Rescue Service.

Chris Maughan, Watch Manager, Emergency Preparedness, said; “The new thermal imaging smartphones undoubtedly help to improve firefighter safety on the incident ground.

“This technology assists crews to identify potential hotspots, measure the temperature of and identify heat sources, including dangers from the outside of buildings prior to entry, and assists with decision making and improving situational awareness helping to build up a picture of the incident.

“Introducing the new thermal imaging smartphone allows firefighters to send live images and videos to remote commanders, such as our Service control room and joint tactical/strategic control groups. Sharing of live information about the incident assists with resourcing and informing partner agencies and/or members of the public when required.”

A number of apps are installed on the smartphone, one of which has information on the majority of vehicles on the UK road system, helps to show locations of airbags, and ‘boron’ steel strengthening bars, allowing for a safer extrication of individuals following road traffic collisions.

Using Google Translate via an app to talk to members of the public whose first language isn’t English helps to communicate more effectively, and address any welfare concerns.

The thermal image smartphones are actively used and have been well received by our firefighters across the Service for use outside of buildings and are not a replacement for the dedicated Thermal Image Cameras the breathing apparatus teams use inside.