Thermal Imaging Camera

Former Oskaloosa Fire Chief Mark Neff and Firefighter Adam Haroldson giving The Herald a first hand look at what firefighters see when looking through the thermal imaging camera

OSKALOOSA – The Oskaloosa Fire Department really got things blazing during their live fire trailer demonstration on Saturday, Feb. 8.

Last weekend, the firefighters were in the parking lot of Penn Central Mall showing those that came out or donated to the Fill the Boot Campaign what it was exactly that their money was going to. In between the visits from residents, the firemen and women used their downtime to squeeze in some extra training under the leadership of Fire Service Training Bureau Training Specialist Mark Neff.

Firefighter Adam Haroldson said the training also give them a chance to test out the new thermal imaging cameras that they were getting to make sure they were a good fit for the department.

“We’re testing to see how this is going to fit for us, to see if this is the model that we want to purchase,” Haroldson said. “A test drive is what we can call it.”

The firemen and women split into two groups for their training and to test out the equipment. They marched into the trailer in down the steps to combat flames a simulation basement fire. Inside the trailer, firemen encounter different props to make the training more comparable to what one would see in a real house fire. Using the thermal imaging cameras and LP gas so ignite the flames, firefighters can easily identity the flames as the heat levels showed through colors ranging from yellow to orange and bright red.

“The fire is all LP gas, so we can control it from the controller and inside the basement, there’s couch fire, there’s kitchen fire props for the kitchen fire and then there’s also a fire that rolls over the ceiling,” he said. It gives us a lot of realism for what we’re going to encounter in a real house fire.”

When the camera was directed towards a person or living creature, they could be easily identified as the image of their body appeared sketched on the screen of the camera in white and grey. Haroldson they have tested out different models as a team, and they are very happy with the model they are working with right now.

“This is going to be a huge tool, even better than we thought it was going to be,” he said. “We’ve learned a whole lot about what each model can do and what they don’t do very well, so we’re very happy with what we’ve seen so far. Each camera model is a little bit different as far as specifications so that we really like this one here.”

As the former Fire Chief in Oskaloosa, Mark Neff said he is very proud of the department for their hard work in raising the money to afford the cameras and the community for always being supportive of the fire department.

“It’s a great tool for them to have and they went through a lot of work trying to fundraiser and stuff,” Neff said. “It’s unfortunate that there’s just not enough money to buy everything that they might need to be outfitted with, so kudos to the community for stepping up and helping the firefighters like they always have in the past.”

Neff agreed that the model camera that they have is a good one and will be a perfect fit for the department. Former Oskaloosa resident Kevin Sytsma came out to check out the equipment and trailer with his children and parents, Sytsma said the camera should be a must-have for every fireman as it could potentially help to save many lives.

Tiffany McDaniel can be reached by phone at (641) 660–9659, by email at or on Twitter @tmcdaniel_osky.

Tiffany McDaniel can be reached by phone at (641) 660–9659, by email at or on Twitter @tmcdaniel_osky.

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